In his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 27, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again insisted on Moscow’s role as “a guarantor” of peace, instead of being a party into the conflicts in Georgia, calling for non-use of force arrangements between Tbilisi, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.
“We are strongly committed to doing our utmost in order to prevent a repetition of the use of force scenario in the Caucasus as it happened in August 2008 as a result of a reckless venture by the ruling regime in Tbilisi,” Lavrov said in the part of his speech where he spoke of conflicts in post-Soviet space, also mentioning Nagorno-Karabakh and Transdnistria.
“Russia is ready to act as a guarantor of arrangements on non-use of force between Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia taking into account the earlier relevant statements made by the leaders of these three parties. We would welcome it if the United States and the European Union made similar commitments. As guarantors, we would be ready to take steps to prevent resumption of violence in the region and in case of wrongful use of force by either side, to work towards the early settlement of the situation on the basis of the existing norms of international law,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.
Russia had been insisting on, what it calls, legally binding non-use of force agreements between Tbilisi and Sokhumi and Tbilisi and Tskhinvali for a long time – the proposal opposed by Georgia. Last year Russia proposed unilateral non-use of force declarations to be made separately by Tbilisi, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, instead of signing of the agreements. But after President Saakashvili made such unilateral non-use of force pledge at the European Parliament on November 23, Moscow started to again insist on a written agreement between the sides, but at the same time refusing to make itself part of such agreement, arguing that it is “a mediator” and “guarantor”, not party into the conflict.
President Saakashvili also raised this issue in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 22, saying that almost year after solemnly pledging at the European Parliament that Georgia “will never use force to liberate its regions currently occupied by the Russian Federation,” Tbilisi was still waiting for Moscow's reciprocal pledge.
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