President Saakashvili said in his address to the UN General Assembly Session on September 22 that Russia annexing Georgia’s regions, and he warned that the region will inevitably plunge into “darkness and conflict” if the international community fails to change the current Russian-led peacekeeping operations in the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflict zones.
Mikheil Saakashvili said that he is proposing “a fresh roadmap” to peacefully resolve the secessionist conflicts.
“The essential elements of this package must include the demilitarization of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, backed by the active engagement of the United Nations, the OSCE, the EU and other international organizations,” Saakashvili said.
He said that the process should be accompanied by a direct dialogue between the Georgian and Abkhaz/Georgian and South Ossetian sides “so that together we can assume responsibility for re-building peace.”
“These efforts can and will succeed through the establishment of an international police presence in both regions, backed again with the robust inclusion of the international community,” Saakashvili said.
“Once such a force is in place, we are ready to back its mandate by signing a comprehensive non-use of force pledge,” he added.
The Russian, Abkhaz and South Ossetian side have insistently been calling on Tbilisi to sign an agreement on the non-resumption of hostilities.
Saakashvili said that the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts are impeding Georgia’s development and the current Russian-led peacekeeping and negotiating formats are hindering the peace process.
“The frameworks for peacekeeping and formats for negotiation no longer function,” he said.
He said that Georgia’s goal is “the pursuit of peace and a peaceful resolution.”
“But let me again be very clear - if we fail to unite in support of new mechanisms to advance peace, we give a green light to those who seek otherwise - and we risk plunging the region into darkness and conflict, despite our best efforts to promote peace,” Saakashvili stated.
He said as soon as progress is made in transforming existing “anachronistic” negotiating and peacekeeping mechanisms, “we continue to stand ready to work with our neighbor in the Russian Federation.”
Saakashvili said consultations have already begun and they will intensify “in the weeks and months ahead to change these mechanisms.”
In his speech Saakashvili noted that despite Tbilisi’s efforts to convince Russia to become “part of the solution” Moscow continues to annex the Georgian territories.
“The painful, but factual truth is that these regions are being annexed by our neighbor to the north - the Russian Federation - which has actively supported their incorporation through a concerted policy of mass distribution of Russian passports - in direct violation of international law, which is itself unprecedented,” Saakashvili said.
“I would like to ask all of you if any members in this great hall would welcome – or tolerate such interference by another power on their own soil. I doubt it,” he added.
He also criticized Russia for an attempt to use the Kosovo case as “a universal model” for other conflicts.
“As the international community seeks to find a just solution to this decade-long issue - we must take stock of the extraordinarily counterproductive efforts pursued by the Russian Federation to abuse this unique situation for the pursuit of narrow special interests,” Saakashvili said.
“Here too we must be very frank: any attempt by Russian officials to create or imply that a 19th century-style solution involving deals and territorial swaps in exchange for an agreement on Kosovo is not only old fashioned but deeply immoral,” he added.
Saakashvili warned that if Russia persists in attempting to make this “dangerous linkage” its impact will be far reaching “and the Pandora's box of violent separatism and conflict will be unleashed not only in the Caucasus, but across many parts of our globe.”
In his address Saakashvili also spoke about progress the country has made since the Rose Revolution and underlined that Georgia has firmly decided to move towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
He hailed NATO’s decision to grant an Intensified Dialogue to Georgia and said that the Georgian government will be signing an Action Plan as part of the EU's European Neighborhood Policy. EU officials are expected to arrive in Tbilisi on October 3 for this purpose.
Saakashvili also underlined the importance of the October 5 local self-governance elections and said “I look forward to a healthy competition, to transparent elections, and a more vibrant democratic system.”