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Opposition respond to Tagliavini report

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Friday, October 2
Yesterday the opposition responded to the report of the EU fact finding commission on the conflict in Georgia by strongly criticising President Saakashvili and his administration for its irresponsible actions during the war, calling on him to resign quietly.

The Alliance for Georgia released a special statement read by its leader Irakli Alasania at a press conference. This said that the commission’s assessment of the President’s conduct is very ‘tough’ as its report says that “the shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia, yet it was only the culminating point of a long period of increasing tensions, provocations and incidents.”

“The mission’s conclusion gives a very tough assessment of the actions taken by the Georgian President. However we also think that great responsibility lies with Russia for conducting a military aggression against sovereign Georgia and occupying Georgian territory. The mission`s report says that by doing this the Russian Government brutally violated all existing international norms,” Alasania said.

The Alliance stated that the irresponsible step taken by Saakashvili of opening fire on Tskhinvali has put the development of the country under threat and gave the opportunity for the aggressor to enter Georgian territory and attack. “This war was not inevitable, it was the result of wrong political decisions made over the years,” the statement reads. Alliance members are sure that Georgia will be able to re-establish relations with the Abkhazian and Ossetian people and start building a peaceful future jointly.

Leader of the Democratic Movement – United Georgia Nino Burjanadze stated that the EU Mission report has once more proved that Georgia has an irresponsible Government. She said at a special briefing that the fact that all authoritative media sources are presenting Georgia as a country which starts wars, based on the report, is a serious danger to the future of Georgia.

“This Government has traditionally tried to conceal the truth from the public by using the media. Falsifying and distorting the facts of this report is crime against the citizens of Georgia,” Burjanadze stated.

“Saakashvili’s irresponsible and criminal actions have compromised the vital interests of the country and facilitated the achievement of Russia’s goals both in Georgia and the whole region. They have taken from us the possibility of integrating with NATO and the EU. The report’s conclusion has once again confirmed that we have an irresponsible, incapable leader, who poses a danger to the stability of the country and who is leading the country to an impasse. Undoubtedly, this kind of President has no right to lead the country,” Burjanadze stated.

“There are two main points in the conclusion: who started the war, and whether Russia’s actions before the war started were legitimate. It says that we started the war and Russia’s prior actions conformed with international legal norms. Today Georgia can only be saved if the author of this adventure, disgraced Commander-in-Chief Saakashvili, resigns” Labour Party Leader Shalva Natelashvili said, expressed his surprise that Government officials were positively assessing Tagliavini’s report and welcoming its contents.

The National Democratic Party assessed the report as “important” and “objective.” The party’s Political Secretary Goga Gogniashvili stated that both sides’ actions are mentioned in the report and it says that the war did not start last year but a long time before. He drew attention to the fact that the report states that on August 7 Georgia opened fire first, and thus violated international norms, but what it did cannot be judged by this action alone. “It is stressed throughout the document what Russia did before and during the conflict and how dangerous this is for the world. We should draw the right conclusions from this,” Gogniashvili stated.

The Parliamentary opposition described the report as politically balanced. Vice Speaker of Parliament and Christian Democrat Levan Vephkhvadze stated at the briefing that the answers to the two major questions confirmed Georgia’s position. “I was interested in two issues: when the military operation started and whether it was a pre-planned adventure or a response to Russian provocations. The commission has answered both questions. It has rejected Russia’s claims that the Georgian side started the war on August 7 and stated that Georgia was responding to provocations made before the war,” the Vice Speaker said.

Vephkhvadze stated that in some areas the commission could have been stricter towards Russia but unfortunately such evaluations do not appear in the report, but “On the whole, despite this, Tagliavini’s report is objective and should be considered by all international organisations.”