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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

 

Statement of the Georgian Foreign Ministry on the fourth anniversary of the 2008 August War

logoFour years ago, on the 7th of August 2008, Russian troops made an incursion into Georgia's sovereign territory and, in flagrant violation of universally recognized norms and principles of international law, carried out direct military aggression against Georgia.

On the 12th of August 2008, a six-point ceasefire agreement was signed. The Russian Federation, however, continues to flout its obligation to withdraw its forces to their pre-war positions as set out in this Agreement.

The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation remain in Georgia and occupy 20 percent of the country's territory. Russia has proceeded to recognize the regimes created with its political support and military backing both in Abkhazia and in the Tskhinvali region. Under the pretense of concluding an interstate agreement with these entities created through ethnic cleansing, Russia has set up two military bases on the territory of Georgia and has deployed over ten thousand servicemen therein. The ongoing build-up of offensive military capabilities in these bases includes the deployment of the state-of-the-art command and control systems, tanks and rocket-propelled artillery as well as the training of assault and special operations troops.

Contrary to the provisions of the ceasefire Agreement, Russia openly opposes the establishment of international security and stability mechanisms in the territories under occupation. At the same time, Russia continuously poses obstacles to the International Geneva Discussions, which were designed with two aims in mind - developing international security arrangements and ensuring the safe and dignified return of displaced persons.

Georgia's friends did not leave the country alone neither during the 2008 war, nor afterwards, to face the existential challenge. The efforts of allies helped check the progress of the Russian troops in August 2008. Following the war, friendly countries have rendered considerable assistance to Georgia in restoring economic stability and repairing damaged infrastructure.

Georgia is especially grateful to every state which has contributed personnel and helped deploy the European Union Monitoring Mission within the shortest possible time after the conflict. The occupation regime impedes the access of EUMM to the occupied territories. Mission members, however, contribute significantly to everyday stability by reducing the space for military or political provocations. It is to be hoped that artificial obstacles recently created by Moscow and by Sokhumi proxy regime to the participation of the EU Monitoring Mission in the Gali Incident Prevention Mechanism (IPRM) will be overcome and that the EU Mission will be allowed to carry out its mandated tasks.

Despite grave challenges, Georgia stood firmly on course towards the family of European nations. Our goal is to build a democratic state based upon liberal values and to create a stable, secure and just environment for every person living in Georgia. Concrete steps have been taken in recent years to build closer ties with the European Union - an Association Agreement, visa simplification dialogue and deep and comprehensive free trade agreements are currently being negotiated.On the fourth anniversary of the war, Georgia remains committed to making a special contribution to the strengthening of international security in the region and worldwide. Our soldiers help maintain security in Afghanistan. Georgia's presence in the UN and EU civilian and police missions is set to increase in the years to come. Georgia actively shares its experience in achieving reforms with all interested states. Georgia shares its best practices in tackling corruption, in improving the quality of public services and in making the transition from being a consumer to becoming a provider of security.

The Georgian government adopted an engagement strategy in the aftermath of the 2008 war, the main aim of which is to restore confidence through day-to-day relations with people living in the occupied territories and to offer them opportunities for economic and social development. By implementing this strategy, we are extending the hand of friendship to our Abkhaz and Ossetian compatriots and are expressing our wish to set aside past disagreements, while taking active and pragmatic steps towards enabling the communities divided by the new Berlin Wall of the occupation line to re-engage, to look once more with confidence at each other and towards the shared future.

Despite the aggression of 2008, our country maintains a friendly approach to Russian citizens. The economic investments of Russian companies active in Georgia are protected. Georgia unilaterally abolished visa requirements - first for the residents of the neighboring North Caucasus and subsequently for all citizens of the Russian federation. This has given a new impetus to tourism and has done much to improve people-to-people relations. Air and land traffic between Georgia and Russia has effectively been restored. Georgia has on more than one occasion expressed its readiness to negotiate with Russia on all outstanding issues at any level. Unfortunately, Russia has not reciprocated.

Georgia maintains a constructive position during the Geneva Discussions as well. Georgian pledged unilaterally undertook not to use force to resolve the conflict, while Moscow has yet to reciprocate. During the upcoming rounds of the Geneva Discussions, we hope that Russia will take heed of the calls by the EU and to undertake a similar binding commitment on non-use of force towards Georgia. Georgia will continue to demonstrate restraint and pragmatism in measures to address the concrete problems of those living in the occupied territories. However, red lines are firmly drawn at questioning Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the fourth anniversary of the 2008 war, we reiterate that our goal is to resolve the conflict peacefully rather than to create a new frozen conflict on Georgian territory. Every person living within the borders of our country deserves the right to develop his or her own potential in dignity to benefit from the successes of our country, while being free from fear.

In implementing this vision, we need close relations of partnership with the countries of the region, with members of the Euro-Atlantic family and with international organizations. We rely upon the support of our partners in ensuring sustainable peace and security in the region. For its part, Georgia is ready to play an active part in strengthening international peace and security.

On the fourth anniversary of the war, Georgia is confidently looking towards the future, while striving to establish itself firmly among the free nations of the world.

 

Tbilisi, 7 August 2012

 
 

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