Tbilisi welcomes Clinton’s statements on European security
By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, February 1
Tbilisi has welcomed the statements of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the principles of security in Europe, made at a conference in Paris on January 29.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Georgian Foreign Ministry released statements following the Secretary of State’s speech. “She has once more expressed the approach of the United States towards Georgia, the whole region and the policy of the Russian Federation,” President Saakashvili’s press spokesperson Manana Manjgaladze said on January 30.
Speaking in Paris on the Future of European Security, Clinton said that the United States has demonstrated its adherence to the principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. “Much of the suffering that occurred in Europe during the 20th century emanated from a failure to respect borders or to honour the right of all nations to pursue their own foreign policies, choose their own allies, and provide for their own self-defence. These are fundamental rights of free nations and we must and will remain vigilant in our efforts to oppose any attempt to undermine them,” Clinton stated.
“We have repeatedly called on Russia to honour the terms of its ceasefire agreement with Georgia, and we refuse to recognise Russia’s claims for the independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” the Secretary of State said.
Clinton commented on the NATO-Russia issue, saying that for years Russia has expressed a sense of insecurity as both NATO and the EU expanded. “But we strongly believe that the enlargement of both has increased security, stability, and prosperity across the continent, and that this, in turn, has actually increased Russia’s security and prosperity,” the Secretary of State said.
The US is committed to exploring the ways that NATO and Russia can improve their relationship by “better reassuring each other about their respective actions and intentions, through greater military transparency, by sharing of information and other means of building confidence”, according to the Secretary of State. “Now, I don’t need to state, but I will, that the United States and Russia will not always agree. We have different histories, different experiences and perspectives. Our interests will not always overlap. But when we disagree, we will seek constructive ways to manage our differences," she added.
The Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty is in “danger of crumbling”, the US Secretary of State said. “Two years ago, Russia suspended the implementation of the CFE Treaty, while the United States and our allies continue to uphold it. The Russia-Georgia war in 2008 was not only a tragedy but also has created a further obstacle to moving forward,” she added.
President Saakashvili welcomes the “clear and unchanged” position Clinton expressed and the support of the United States, according to Manjgaladze. “With such firm policy, the US will not allow Russia to divide the region into spheres of influence,” she told journalists at a special press conference. “Such a policy and approach will not allow The Kremin to justify the occupation of 20 percent of Georgian territory or the fact that 500,000 people have become IDPs as a result of ethnic cleansing,” she added.
Speaking about the possible consequences of Clinton’s statements for Georgian-Russian relations, Georgian analysts say that the statements themselves can be considered a positive result. “It would be incorrect to say that Clinton’s statements will bring no results,” analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili has told The Messenger, while criticising Georgian officials for “always greeting the repeated statements of the US about its recognition of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as a surprise.” “This gives the impression that the Georgian administration does not believe that the statements of US officials are actually sincere,” Tsiskarishvili said, adding that “there is nothing new in the statements of US officials.”