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Georgia wants terms “occupation” and “ethnic cleaning” to be internationally accepted

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, February 16
The Georgian Government is trying to ensure that the terms “occupation” and “ethnic cleansing” are officially applied by international bodies to the activities carried out by the Russians in Georgia’s breakaway regions, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

“For Georgia it is important that the current situation on the occupied territories, which is recognised as existing de facto, becomes recognised de jure,” Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Nino Kalandadze said. Speaking at the traditional Monday media briefing, Kalandadze said that “our main aim is that the terms ‘occupation’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ are judicially recognised in the world and mentioned in all official documents.” The Georgian side will raise this issue at the meeting with the Council of Europe’s Danish delegation which is visiting Georgia from February 15 to 18, according to the Deputy Minister.

The Danish delegation will meet Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and EU and Council of Europe officials in Tbilisi during its visit, among others, the Georgian Parliament's Press Service has reported. On February 17 the delegation members will visit Gori and meet the Shida Kartli Governor, Lado Vardzelashvili. They are also planning to visit the Tskhinvali region and the Tserovani IDPs settlement, according to the Parliament's Press Service.

At yesterday’s briefing Kalandadze also commented on the visit of de facto Abkhazian President Sergey Baghapsh to Russia planned for February 16-18. The Deputy Minister said the Georgian side will inform the international community about the upcoming visit and the plans of Sokhumi and Moscow to sign a number of cooperation agreements. “Unfortunately we are unable to interfere in the relations between Russia and the de facto authorities. The only lever that we have is to inform the international community and request it to react,” she said, adding that the Georgian side has “no illusions” however that international pressure will bring any results.

The Apsnypress news agency has reported that Baghapsh is planning to meet President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kyril of Russia. Baghapsh and Medvedev will also sign an agreement about setting up a joint Russian military base in Abkhazia, the news agency reported. “This will be the third time when the Presidents of Abkhazia and Russia have signed an agreement in The Kremlin, and it will be one of the most important events during Baghapsh’s visit to Moscow,” the de facto Abkhazian Foreign Ministry has stated. Other documents to be signed between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway region include agreements on restoring flights, establishing marine and aviation reconnaisance of the Black Sea and cooperating in combating illegal immigration, according to Abkhazian media outlets.

The agreement on restoring air flights between Moscow and Sukhumi will have no judicial power in terms of international law, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia said. “The only way for Georgia to oppose Russia’s plans to sign the agreement on air flights with Georgia’s separatist region is to request the international community to make an adequate reaction,” Kalandadze stated.