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‘Separatists Left Empty-Handed’ - Saakashvili Says
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Feb.'08 / 16:49

Separatist leaders have been left “empty-handed” as Russia did not recognize the breakaway regions following Kosovo's independence, President Saakashvili said on February 26.

He was speaking at a meeting with Georgian veterans of the armed conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the early 90s.

“You know that in recent months we have been preparing for certain provocations, that might have taken place in connection with the recognition of Kosovo’s independence,” Saakashvili said. “Believe me, the only reason why it was clearly stated [by Russia] that the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would not be recognized, is that Georgia stands firm on its feet.”

“Let’s imagine that tents are erected throughout the entire country and the state functioning is in a mess,” he continued, referring to the nine-party opposition coalition’s now aborted plan to launch a hunger strike and establish what it called a "town of tents" throughout Georgia. “Let’s imagine that Georgia is embroiled in civil war; let’s imagine that there is chaos and clashes in Georgia, similar to the situation in 1991. In that case these territories would have been recognized immediately. We were able to twart this because of  our elections, democratic development, calmness and stability. Georgia is strong and it can respond appropriately in any situation.”

“[South Ossetian leader Eduard] Kokoity has been claiming for the past three years that [South Ossetia’s] independence would be recognized next week. With the Kosovo issue approaching, [Abkhaz leader Sergey] Bagapsh also started talking about it. He said: I have precise information that our independence will be recognized in the next few weeks. Now these people – Bagapsh, Kokoity and other separatists - have been left empty-handed. Their patrons did not dare to give this issue the go-ahead. This is a huge domestic and foreign political victory for Georgia.”

He also told the Georgian veterans that it was not their fault that Georgia had lost control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the early 90s. “The Georgian fighters did not lose those wars; malfunctioning [of the state], mismanagement and treason were the causes,” Saakashvili said.

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