In his address to the 61st session of the UN General Assembly, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili plans to push forth a demand “in the form of an ultimatum” for an end to Russian-led peacekeeping operations in the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflict zones, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on September 14.
According to the statement, Saakashvili will push to replace the peacekeepers “with a kind of international police force.”
The statement goes on to say that the Georgian side’s attempts to destabilize the situation in the conflict zones and its refusal to sign agreements on the non-resumption of hostilities has led “to a significant deterioration of the situation in the zones of conflicts” and “the freezing of the negotiating process.”
“Against the background of a deteriorating internal situation in Georgia, with the consequent growth of those in the opposition, the Georgian leadership is obviously trying to find the guilty party elsewhere [in foreign forces]. This is reflected in repressions carried out by Georgian law enforcement against opposition [forces] within the country under the pretext that they are plotting a plot with some kind of foreign forces’ assistance,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement reads, referring to arrest of 13 activists from organizations affiliated with Moscow-based Igor Giorgadze’s Justice Party.
“All these [developments] occur against the background of an active militarization process in Georgia and mounting military and aggressive rhetoric by the Georgian top level official.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced as groundless Tbilisi’s accusations that Russian peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are ineffective.
“The peacekeeping forces are precisely fulfilling their mandate on separating the [conflicting] sides and keeping the peace and stability. A political settlement of the conflicts can not be a part of the peacekeeping forces’ mandate. Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia should negotiate it. Mutually acceptable 'bridges' for [conflict] settlement have been constructed through Russian mediation and, in addition, mutually acceptable negotiating formats have been created… But it becomes more and more difficult to overcome 'a wall' erected by Georgia on the way of reconciliation and conflict resolution,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
“According to the principles of international law... conflicting sides have absolutely equal rights and responsibility in respect to all issues related with resolving their disputes. Because of this, apart from Georgia’s opinion, it is essential to equally take into consideration the opinions of the Abkhazia and South Ossetian sides.”
“The leadership of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are insisting that the presence of Russian peacekeeping forces is of vital importance. Multiple calls and requests by civil society and humanitarian organizations, as well as by common citizens from these regions [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] about protection against infringements from abroad proves [the importance of the peacekeeping forces].”
“We have no right to ignore requests of this kind, especially given the background that the majority of residents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Russian citizens. Russia will continue the implementation of existing international agreements and treaties in the frames of existing negotiating and peacekeeping formats,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.