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The situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is beyond all limits, Vashadze says

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, April 21
The situation in Georgia’s occupied territories in terms of human rights and international law violations has “exceeded all limits”, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on April 19. He was speaking at a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

“The situation in the region is alarming. The Russians are opening military bases in Abkhazia and getting ready to build new ones as well. These facts should be considered when we are talking about demilitarisation,” the Georgian Minister told journalists in the USA.

Vashadze slammed The Kremlin, saying “more and more states recognise that Russia is an occupier.” The Minister said that the Georgian side is ready to hold negotiations with Moscow if it “takes into account” the territorial integrity of Georgia. “The attitude of any democratic and sovereign Government would be the same. It is time Russia respects Georgia’s sovereignty. More and more states worldwide recognise that Russia is an occupier and that due to its actions the number of IDPs in the country has risen to unprecedented levels,” Vashadze stated.

The Minister touched upon the Geneva talks, saying that the negotiations in Switzerland are of “great importance” in defending the rights of the people living on Georgia’s occupied territories. “Unfortunately the attitude of the Russian authorities does not change and they are still refusing to talk to the democratically elected Government of Georgia. Tbilisi has contact with The Kremlin only at Geneva,” he said.

Vashadze commented on Georgia’s position on signing a non-use of force document. “We have no problems with signing a document on non-use of force with Russia. But Russia wants us to sign this treaty with the representatives of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali regimes. We do not see any legislative basis for this, because such states [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] do not exist,” Vashadze told Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “The ceasefire agreement signed on August 12, 2008 stipulates the non-use of force. But if Russia has anything to add to it, Georgia is ready to sign an agreement at any time. If Mr. Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister) were here now, I could sign the agreement right now. But we are not going to sign it with representatives of the Tskhinvali and Sokhumi regimes at the expense of Georgia’s sovereignty,” the Georgian Minister added.

The resolution of the problems on Georgia’s occupied territories should be pursued with “perseverance and patience” according to Vashadze. He stressed the importance of fulfilling Georgia’s newly adopted State Strategy on the Occupied Territories. “The Georgian strategy is being played out on two fronts: legal issues and the competition with Russia on matters such as democracy and human rights,” the Minister said.

Vashadze mentioned that the support Georgia has received from the international community had come “as countries came to understand that the Russian actions are against international law”. He said that Georgia’s relations with the United States are “as good as ever”. “The fact that US President Barack Obama did not meet the Georgian President was not a snub. It was dictated by the fact that the United States President was occupied with internal affairs,” the Georgian Foreign Minister stated. “During the Washington Summit the two Presidents had a frank exchange of ideas,” he said, adding that the better the relations between the US and Russia are, the better it is for Georgia, “because United States diplomats can bring up the issue of the occupation with the Russians on every occasion,” Vashadze told journalists in New York.