Speeches & Statements

The joint press conference of the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer


Mikheil Saakashvili:

Mr. Secretary General, dear guests!

First of all I want to thank you personally for this truly important visit.

I want to thank you all for the fact that NAC first very important visit was held in Georgia and for the formation of the joint commission was formed.

I want to thank all 26 permanent representatives of NATO that came here in Georgia together with you.

You have brought a very strong message for Georgian people as well as for the whole world,

Georgia does not stand alone at this very tough period of time.

It also sends a message that NATO is an independent and strong organization and not any third party can veto its decision making process. Now more than ever Georgia's course to Euro-Atlantic integration is on the irreversible track. A track that does not create new dividing lines, it does not represent any threat to the other parties. Rather it is a track that represents a way to stability, security and prosperity towards Euro-Atlantic space, Georgia is moving ahead step-by-step in close coordination with NATO alliance members.

The establishment of NATO-Georgian Commission is another important step which makes us closer.

The events which took place here in Georgia one month ago when Russia invaded in Georgia, and tried to remove democratically elected government by force. They wanted to change our Euro-Atlantic choice, which was made by Georgian people.

I have said it before and I will say it again that we did not initiate the conflict with Russia and it was not a conflict that we choose. Evidences inform of telephone intercepts and lots of other information that we have from numerous eye witnesses conclusively prove that Russian tanks and armored columns invaded in Georgia before the conflict began. And I have to underline this, clich that conflict started when Georgia attacked South Ossetia is one hundred percent false and was false from the very beginning. And this information is everywhere on the world press front pages finally today. This was an illegal and premeditated invasion

We were trying to defend ourselves and the prevention of their farther invasion and we have made not an easy choice. We have huge responsibility taken - to defend our democracy from aggression.

We are looking forward to the future, this is why independent investigation is necessary, because we are democratic state and we do not have anything to hide. The high quality of transparency is good for everyone. This is why we have to discuss these issues. Today we have address to the parliament and I ask all international journalists to come to the parliament with us. They will listen to the information about new wave of democratic reforms we are carrying out in our country. I want to express my gratitude once again to the members of NATO countries, to our partners. I thank you personally Mr. Secretary General. I believe that today Georgia's Euro-Atlantic fortune is irreversible.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Thank you very much Mr. President, honorable Ministers!

The visit of North-Atlantic council 26 ambassadors and my visit personally, was planned certain time ago. The purpose of this visit was an extension of the Bucharest summit. You all know that the decision about integration of Georgia into North-Atlantic alliance was made in Bucharest. Besides this NATO Foreign Ministers have to make decision about granting MAP to Georgia. We have finished our homework already, we talk with government, opposition, NGOs, representatives of Ombudsman and other structures.

Very important meeting was held about August events. I do not have to repeat what was the reaction of NATO Foreign Ministers about this crisis, you know what was our position about the fact when Russia recognized South-Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries. This visit was very important from this point of view. South-Ossetia and Abkhazia are Georgian territories. NAC and our Ministers made statements about recent events. NATO is looking towards future, we look to that way which is very important regarding Euro-Atlantic integration. Statement about fact that Georgia will become member of NATO was made in Bucharest. We had a meeting in Tbilisi State University today, this is very important moment as well. Third party can not influence on any decision. These are inspirations of Georgian government and Georgian people. 26 NATO allies will make final decision. The most important today is that we have to find ways to solve this problem. We were in Gori today and met IDPs there. We went to their camps, we saw mothers, old people and children there. We saw results of this conflict, this has to be resolved very soon. They need to return to their houses and this process needs to start. NATO 26 allies support document, which was reached by the mediation of Sarkozy.

This agreement must be fulfilled. This problem must be solved politically. We started joint work long ago, when Georgia joined the project "Partnership for Peace". We will continue our cooperation with government in future as well. So I think that this visit was very successful. We had a chance to meet representatives of your government. These meetings were truly fruitful. We know that we must find ways to resolve Georgia's problem. Thank you very much for attention.

TV Channel Rustavi 2

I have a question to Secretary General. You mention often that it is necessary to continue democratic reforms for Georgia to become the member of alliance. You met almost every political group here in Georgia during this two days. Your ambassadors met both the government and the opposition and you met our students as well. What do you think about ongoing democratic reforms in Georgia, even after Bucharest?

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

My strong message is that, regardless serious atmosphere and crisis which was created after August events, this can not be used as an argument for stopping these reforms. No matter weather these reforms belong to judicial, police, defense or other reforms. This is very important process. NATO is an organization, which makes decisions after evaluation of circumstances. There are different tendencies, but I have not seen anything and I do not want to speak about this. When we speak about such crisis, no matter whether this crisis is internal or external, someone might think that these reforms can be postponed - no way! Reforms must continue immediately. I said today during my meeting with students - Georgia has reached important progress. Georgia has done a lot, but still has to do a lot. It means that regardless rough period, Georgia must continue this process in faster tempo, in more active and effective way.


This is very strong geo-political message, which you have mentioned. This is strong message for Moscow. Can Russia do the same in Crimea and Ukraine?

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

My message is clear for everyone - when we speak specifically about Georgia. We are in Georgia now and must say that this country has very serious ambitions. If Georgia stands alone, it wouldn't be able to do a lot. This is why EU got involved in this process. This was very timely and sufficient step. This is why the six-point accord was developed, than September agreement was made. We must concentrate on these issues and solve these problems. My message is clear for everyone. Now about Ukraine - you know our relationship between Ukraine and NATO. After Bucharest Ukraine has the same position as Georgia. NAC visited Ukraine as well several months ago. This is our message. We will continue our relationship with Ukraine as well. You know that situation there is tense as well they have problems in coalition. Besides this Georgian and Ukraine must decide independently which course to choose. The referendum was held in both countries. NATO will never urge any country to become its member. This must be free choice of free country. Ukraine must choose its course of foreign policy. Ukraine, like Georgia, is mentioned in Bucharest declaration.

TV company Al-Jazira

You know that continuation of reforms is necessary. What specifically you tell the Georgian government? What must they do?

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

I think I have already answered this question. Reforms must be continued. We are speaking about reforms in judicial system, police, also about election system reform. We must not see those problems in future, what we saw during the previous elections. We must carry out prevention of problematic issues. We do not say that NATO is directly involved in this process, but we are an organization, which is based on values. This is why we need to receive information. I know what are you focusing on - the object of your attention is existing crisis. I have already presented my messages and government must continue its reforms. You will have short brake, and afterwards you will go to the Parliament and receive information about this all.


Mr. Secretary General, do you thin that US will give NATO chance to play lieder role in that particular sphere, when it concerns Russia-Georgian relations. Mr. President do you think that US is active enough regarding solving these problems? I think other are observing and waiting what diplomatic ways could be found...

Mikheil Saakashvili

I am sure that we received huge assistance from Europe. The participation of President Sarkozy in this process was crucial and we urge Russia to return to Status-Quo, to return to those position where they were before August 7. It mainly means that 500 soldiers must stay in South Ossetia, must leave Akhalgori, Kodori gorge and from those territories which are under our jurisdiction. All of these is in full accord with Sarkozy 6-point document and it is clear for everyone. President Sarkozy spoke about this and he played huge role.

This mission must be continued and we ask him to get involved in this process more actively. We are thankful for everything. We received enormous assistance from US State Administration. Senator Obama has called several times, this was very important. Senator Baiden came to Georgia with very specific project. I can not forget an idea of issuing Georgia one billion USD. You know what Cenator McCain said - "All of us are Georgians!" - and you know this information very well. This is the moment when Europe stands together. We see this unity. NATO had very strong position. We see that everyone stands united today. Trans-Atlantic unity is so strong, that no one has seen anything like this before. Will it continue? I hope it will. This is a very important process and it can not be stopped. With such assistance we will be able to resolve our problems by ourselves. It is 21 century now and 21 century problems must be solved with 21 century approach.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

I want to add something. We speak about existing crisis and must not forget that NATO doesn't stand on the political frontline. In such cases EU comes on first position and NATO must not take its place. We must understand that US is permanent member of NATO. 26 countries are members of NATO. They have to fulfill it's own role. I have already spoken about NATO-Georgian relations in general - and recent events that took place in August must not impact this relation. All 26 members have it's own attitude on these issues. We fully support decision, which was reached by the involvement of France. Besides this there was a decision made in Brussels about sending monitors in Georgia. NATO supports all these decisions. NATO and EU stand on the same position.


Mr. Secretary General, you have already mentioned that part of Georgian territories still remain under the occupation. You have already mentioned that you required from Russia to leave the territory of Georgia and refuse recognition of Georgia's separatist regions. What possible mechanisms are there for making Russia make this step? How do you imagine Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration, when Russian forces still remain on Georgian territory?

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

When we speak about NATO-Georgian relations I want to underline once again, that we stand together on this way and we must get through it together. I speak about stages, concerning this process. We need continuation of political process. The President spoke about it already. I want to underline once again the agreement reached with the assistance of EU. You have already seen declarations and statements. Now we are at a stage when we need to solve problems politically. You already know our opinion about it.

Associated Press

I have a question to Secretary General and then to President. Mr. secretary General, the President spoke about the evidence, about various telephone conversations connected with August 7 events. Its proved that Russia is the aggressor and it is Russia who conducted an attack. The Georgians say that they have passed this information to the west and the members of alliance. Have you seen this material and consequently can you say anything about it. How trustworthy and acceptable is this evidence for NATO. If it is so, will NATO's position towards Russia change taking into consideration the fact that you stated - Russia should not be punished. Mr. President - Russia declares that it is rotating the peace corps. What can you say about it? Besides, what would you say about the mobilization of the Georgian military forces on the territory of South Ossetia?

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Let me respond to this question concerning the above-mentioned discussion. I saw, that the information the President was speaking about is supported. It will be correct if we continue our way, on which we all stand together with the EU. It will be useful if an independent investigation will be carried out referring to these facts.

Mikheil Saakashvili

First of all I would like to speak about concrete facts. When people speak about who the aggressor is, I must say that all these happened on the territory of Georgia. This is our country. We did not go to Vladikavkas or Moscow. They invaded our territory. People forget it very often. Very often Russia forgets where the borders are, and many may forget it, but we have natural borders with Russia - the Caucasian Range. We see where Russia finishes and Georgia starts. Unfortunately Caucasian mountains could not stop their aircraft - they attacked us from these very mountains. The most important fact is that Georgian military forces were mobilized on August 7 and not before that. We hastily mobilized the forces. The mobilization was necessary, in order to react to what happened. Our military forces were in Iraq, as well as in Western Georgia. We had to gather the Army, in order to respond to Russia. They tried to carry out ethnical cleansing. It is true, we mobilized additional forces, but Georgians always were in South Ossetia. Everyone must understand that it's a very small place and it was technically impossible to mobilize all our forces there. Most important is the evidences we have. I know that some journalist carry out their independent investigation. When the Russian newspaper "Red Star" writes the Georgia was the first to enter this territory, its clear that this is their version. Than they say that all of this was a failure. The problem is we do not live in Brezhnev period, when it was possible to change something already published, they who have an access to the internet, speak about developed events. So that the more time passes, the more truth is displayed. This is why we wish people to know more truth and see more facts. We do not speak about today's facts only, but about what was happening in the past. How it all started and developed. President Medvedev said that Russian recruits died in Tskinvali. What were those recruits doing in Tskhinvali? Why were the journalists mobilized there? What were the Russian generals doing in Tskhinvali for years running. The Prime Minister of South Ossetia was Morozov - why? Their high ranking officials were Morozov, Ivanov and the rest. How can we reach our voice to a person, who does not care about the contacts. By the way, South Ossetia was ours. We were winners over separatists. We have done everything we could. I want to say that we liberated people from Tskhinvali jail, it is very interesting. But at the same time it is tragic. They were torturing a population of South-Ossetia.

I share the worry of these people, they truly play an important role in creating the history of Georgia. And I am very sorry that many people died in these battles. I have to say, that we weren't the initiators of this war and I am sorry that many people died. I am sure that by and by more truth will be displayed and more people will find out the truth.

We are a democratic nation, we live in a democratic state. There are serious debates in the parliament on this issue and I advise you to follow the process.

BBC news

Though you have already spoken on these issues still Russia is trying to leave about 7 000 military service men in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I wonder if you have already got used to loosing South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Mikheil Saakashvili

Never! If it happens, this process will not only continue here, but it will start everywhere. Before that Russians had a de-facto control over half of South Ossetia and most of the Abkhazia territory. Then there were talks that Georgia had inner problems with separatists. Today there is no talk about separatists, but about a wolf, about a wolf in ship skin. earlier there were talks about "small" separatists, who confronted "terrible" Georgians. Today we have seen wolf's face. This is not a place for wolves, to govern. This is the biggest challenge for the world since World War Two. This is not only Georgia's problem, this is the problem and challenge of the whole international community. I think after these events the international system has become very active. We do not speak only about one territory, we speak about the European structure systems and the norms of civilized behavior. If we want to return the civilization in order to arrange problems, we have to continue this process. If we get used to the existing situation, the problems will start elsewhere. This is my answer, thank you!

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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