President Saakashvili said on June 25 it was “an important step forward” in Tbilisi’s drive to internationally recognize Russia as occupying power, when the White House used the term “occupation” in reference to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
A ten-page fact sheet, released by the White House on June 24, detailing how President Obama has "reset" the relationship with Russia, says that the Washington continues “to call for Russia to end its occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” It also reads that the Obama administration continues “to press for… a return of international observers to the two occupied regions of Georgia.”
President Saakashvili also said that Tbilisi welcomed U.S.-Russia dialogue and added that the U.S. remained committed to its principles in its policy of “reset” of relations with Russia and it was “a precondition for us that this dialogue will yield desirable results for everybody, including for those about 500,000 of our citizens, who cannot return to their own homes.
Below is a full transcript of Saakashvili’s statement on the matter:
“For the first time, at this level, the U.S. President and his administration have officially described the presence of Russian troops in Georgia as occupation and [described] our regions [of Abkhazia and South Ossetia] as Georgia’s occupied regions.
We have been working for already two years to establish [use] this term in international practice [in reference to Abkhazia and South Ossetia]. It is not and it was not a simple task because a term ‘occupation’ means concrete legal consequences and historically it was very rarely used in international practice as well as such outrageous actions, which Russia carries out in Georgia, are very rare. We had constant consultations with our American partners during recent months, including on this issue.
We welcome that yesterday an exact legal evaluation was given to what is happening in Georgia. This is a very important step forward. As far as legal-political assessment is concerned, from now on it is now precisely defined on the highest international level that we have to deal with the occupation and that the Russian troops in Georgia represent occupants.
Any occupation is temporary and sooner or later each occupant will have to leave the territory occupied by them.
At the same time, we welcome holding of a dialogue between Russia and the United States. We welcome President Obama’s course in this direction.
The fact that under conditions of this dialogue the United States remains committed to its principle position, based on the values which the United States has, is a precondition for us that this dialogue will yield desirable results for everybody, including for those about 500,000 of our citizens, who cannot return to their own homes.
Despite the rhetoric full of threats by the Russian leadership, Georgia always was, is and will be ready to hold a in-depth dialogue with Russia on the return of about 500,000 citizens of any ethnicities, who were expelled from their homes, as well as on de-occupation of Georgia and full-scale normalization of bilateral relations.
It was not Georgia, who launched confrontation with Russia and Georgia is not interested in continuation of this confrontation, of course, provided that Russia should respect our borders, the choice of the Georgian people, our multi-ethnic society and let the displaced persons of all the ethnicities to return back to their homes, while its occupation troops should leave Georgia’s territory. I repeat – a term ‘occupation’ is no longer my term; it is an internally established term, especially after yesterday.”