Russia’s provocative moves vis-a-vis Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not derail Georgian efforts “to peacefully reunify the country,” President Saakashvili said on April 17, a day after Russia said it had decided to establish legal links with the two breakaway regions.
In an address to the cabinet, which was aired live on TV, Saakashvili said that Georgia’s response to Russia’s decision would be “the mobilization of international support.”
“Nothing will hamper the process of the peaceful unification of our country. We will continue working with all our partners,” he said. “We expect and demand that the Russian Federation revise all those decisions, which breach Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He welcomed supportive statements made by NATO, the EU and some individual states, but added: “We need not only statements; we need serious diplomatic actions from our partners, our friends. We expect and hope that these actions will be made in the nearest days and nearest weeks.”
Saakashvili instructed Giorgi Baramidze, the vice-premier and state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, to travel to France and Germany and sent Davit Bakradze, the foreign minister, to the United States.
“The Georgian side is using all available diplomatic means to secure appropriate international reaction,” Bakradze told President Saakashvili at the meeting.
Bakradze said that Georgia had already demanded that a special session of the UN Security Council be convened on the matter. “We already have the support of our partners [for this],” he said.
He said that Tbilisi had also demanded that the OSCE’s Berlin Mechanism be activated to discuss the Russian move. The Berlin Mechanism, adopted by the organization in 1991, outlines measures that can be applied in the event of emergency situations arising from a violation of one of the Principles of the Helsinki Final Act or major disruptions endangering peace, security or stability. The OSCE’s main decision-making body, the Permanent Council, however, has the the power to deal with emergency situations without formally triggering the Berlin Mechanism, which has been activated only twice - in the early 90s.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on April 17, saying that the Russian move was “yet another very dangerous step, which aims to legalize the de facto annexation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Unlike a month ago, when President Saakashvili immediately responded to Moscow’s withdrawal from the Abkhaz sanctions treaty with a tough-worded statement made at an emergency session of the National Security Council, the Georgian president’s reaction to Russia’s recent move took a day to come and was relatively moderate. News that Russian President Vladimir Putin was instructing his government to establish legal links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke on Wednesday afternoon, April 16, after the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement. Shortly afterwards, the Georgian president’s press office reported that Saakashvili had convened an emergency session of National Security Council – usually a signal that the president is intending to make a public statement. Later, however, the press office retracted the report and said the session had not even been planned.