Georgia will not let “turmoil, instability and violence” in Russia’s North Caucasus to spill over into Georgia, President Saakashvili said in his recorded televised address to the nation made in connection to a clash between Georgian troops and an armed group close to the border with Russia.
Three Georgian troops and eleven members of unspecified armed group, described as “squad of saboteurs”, were killed during the clash in Kakheti region close to Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border on August 29, according to the Georgian authorities.
“Actions of those, who killed our special forces’ servicemen, will be eradicated with the use of all methods and we will resort to any measure in order to no one even try in the future to repeat such thing in Georgia,” Saakashvili said. “I think it will be a very good lesson for those who want to repeat something like this in the future.”
Operation against remaining members of the armed group was still ongoing in the border areas as of late August 29.
In his 6-minute long televised address, recorded in his vineyard in Kvareli, Kakheti region, Saakashvili did not say directly that the armed group infiltrated into Georgia from Russia. He, however, spoke much about the North Caucasus and also said that unlike 1990s, when Russia “managed to export its turmoil” into Georgia, now situation was different and spill over of instability into Georgia would be impossible.
He said that “well-armed” and “well-trained armed group appeared on the Chechen and Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border”, which took in hostage Georgian citizens. He said that the armed group rejected “for several times” to surrender, followed by a shootout.
“According to information gathered by us through reconnaissance with unmanned aerial [vehicles] and other means on the ground, absolute majority of the armed group members have been destroyed,” Saakashvili said.
“In 1990s there was a situation when there was a huge turmoil in these regions [pointing finger towards North Caucasus] and our neighbor [referring to Russia] managed to export its turmoil into the Georgian territory, shifting its problems over here, sending its armed groups over here and it was followed by developments in Tskhinvali, Abkhazia and Pankisi gorge, which was followed by a huge turmoil in Georgia, kidnappings and many other negative developments, which accompanied wave that came over Georgia from the North in 1990s,” he said.
“There is a huge turmoil beyond this mountain range [pointing finger towards the Caucasus Mountains], on our side of this mountain range we have a huge development and rebuilding process. So today we are in an absolutely different situation than we were in 1990s.”
“We, the Georgian state, will not allow turmoil, instability and violence on the territory of our neighboring country to spill over into Georgia in any form and to pose threat to our civilians and our peaceful development.”
“I want to address our North Caucasian brothers. We have our coherent vision about Caucasus as united territory of peace, culture, politics, economy with people of common political and economic fate. So we are open for any kind of contacts, for any kind of relations with our neighbors; we have visa-free travel rules with the Russian Federation and we welcome Russian tourists.”
“But we will not allow movement and raids of armed groups against civilians on the Georgian territory. Georgia is the state, which develops very fast. So I want to call on each of them not to let anyone to use you as a blind weapon for provocations. Instability and turmoil, which is beyond this mountain range, will remain there and it won’t spill over here. We have well-trained law enforcement agencies, we have non-corrupt state apparatus and we have political will to protect our citizens and gains of our peaceful development,” Saakashvili said.
“I want to calm everyone down. No threat poses to our society,” he added.