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Russia appeals for the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, August 26
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appealed to the international community to recognize the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a special statement published on Tuesday, one day before the anniversary of Russia’s recognition of these region.

“Only Nicaragua apart from Russia has recognized the independence of these two new Transcaucasian republics so far. The widening of the process of international recognition of Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence – however long it takes – will doubtless contribute to the further consolidation of peace and security in the region,” says the statement.

It also addressed the issue of the operation of international organizations in the zones of the conflict. After Russia’s veto both OSCE and UN observers were forced to leave the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, leaving these regions without any international monitoring. According to the August 25 statement “without recognition of the new politico-military and legal realities in Transcaucasia it will be impossible to deploy and expand any forms of international presence within South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”

Russia recognized the independence of Georgian breakaway regions on August 26, 2008, after a five-day Russian-Georgian war. The international community has condemned Russia for this decision and for intervention in Georgia. The Georgian government recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia as territories occupied by Russian troops. The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, explains that “Russian troops and border guards present in Abkhazia and South Ossetia under the bilateral agreements are fully in line with international legal norms and contribute hugely to regional stability and security. They maintain necessary contacts with the European Union monitors deployed in the Georgian areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia under last year’s peace agreements of Presidents Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy.”

“When the army of one state deploys its troops on the territory of another state without its permission this is called the occupation of the state,” stated Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov answering the Kremlin’s statement on Tuesday. Nalbandov also underlined that “because of its illegal actions Moscow has to publish one after another of this kind of self-excusing statements.”

The Georgian Foreign Ministry has already criticized Russia’s position and the explanation of its actions during the August conflict. “It has been known all too well for years now that Russia has never been an impartial mediator but has been a party to the conflict. It is the goal of any peacekeeping operation to prevent a cause of war not to create and instigate one. However, Russian "peacekeepers", in direct violation of their mandate, have been arming and training Tskhinvali and Sokhumi separatists throughout the years,” stated the Georgian Foreign Ministry in August 2009.

Tbilisi also underlined that on August 12, 2008 Georgia brought a claim against Russia to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the “facts of ethnic cleansing conducted by the Russian Federation on the sovereign territory of Georgia from 1993 to 2008.” Based on this case, and in recognition of the dire situation on the ground, the Court ordered a provisional measure on October 15, 2008 in which it requested both parties within South Ossetia and Abkhazia to refrain from any acts of racial discrimination and irrespective of ethnic origin to ensure security and rights of all individuals.

“As of today, Russia is in breach not only of the general and universal principles of international law, but is in breach of the concrete Court order due to the unfortunate fact that ethnic cleansing of Georgians is ongoing in the occupied Georgian regions. Without additional exploration, it is clear that with its military aggression Russia has violated all of the principles of carrying out a peacekeeping operation, while hiding these acts under the guise of a peacekeeping operation, represents an example of blatant disrespect and usurpation of the norms and principles of international law,” states Tbilisi.