Speeches & Statements

Georgian President says crimes by Russian peacekeepers will not be excused

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has described the eviction of Georgians from Abkhazia in 1993 as the "most barbarous ethnic cleansing in the 20th century".

He said this in his speech at a joint news conference with US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried in Tbilisi on 1 November, attended by a large number of foreign diplomats, politicians, and analysts. The news conference was broadcast live by Rustavi-2 TV station.

"If there is someone harbouring illusions that Georgia will reconcile itself to this crime against humanity being forgiven, they are grossly mistaken," Saakashvili said.

Concentrating on the 30 October incident at the youth patriot camp in the village of Ganmukhuri situated near the dividing line between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, in which Russian peacekeepers attacked and severely beat five Georgian policemen, Saakashvili said that the Russians in general and the Russian peacekeepers had behaved in the similar manner on a lot of occasions in the past, but the international community had paid no attention to such facts, practiced "superficial" approach to the issues, and some even thought that Georgia was deliberately provoking things in order to attract attention.

The president expressed his indignation at the recent UN resolution on Abkhazia that demanded that the Ganmukhuri youth camp be removed from the area as it could cause provocations and "get on the nerves of the Abkhaz". He described the "absolutely unacceptable" resolution as "far removed from morality" and a "classical example of international organizations' failure to not only resolve the problem, but even understand it". He said that he had made a "very loud statement" in this connection and spoken to the UN Secretary General personally, which was followed by a reaction and the camp was not mentioned in the next resolution.

He also criticized international organizations for continuing to use the name of "Kodori Gorge" to describe the only Georgian-controlled area in Abkhazia instead of "Upper Abkhazia", which he said was a more appropriate term, stressing that it is up to any country to decide how to call its territories.

At the same time, he noted that things were improving and thanked the countries that dispatched their experts to investigate the 6 August incident, in which, as Georgia maintains, a Russian aircraft dropped a bomb that did not explode near the village of Tsitelubani, and the experts wrote correct conclusions and clarified the issue. However, he said there still were some people in Europe who said it was Georgia that dug the bomb into the ground to attract attention.

Saakashvili showed the audience footage of the Ganmukhuri incident part of which was made by the Russian peacekeepers themselves and obtained by local Georgian journalist Ema Gogokhia. He said it showed clearly that what the Russian wanted to present as their attempt to "combat African swine fever" was nothing but a "provocative and bandit attack" aimed at showing that they can do whatever and whenever they like, imposing the sentiments of "weakness and hopelessness" on the Georgians.

Saakashvili said that the 110 or 120-strong Russian contingent that attacked the camp consisted mostly of Chechens from pro-Kremlin Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's detachment, and described this as "provocative and suspicious" repetition of what happened during the 1992-93 war in Abkhazia when "Russia's FSB dispatched thousands of Chechens headed by Shamil Basayev" to fight against Georgia, which ended up "very badly" for Russia itself.

The president stressed that Georgia was no longer a country that could not curb the "onslaught" of the "paramilitary formations, which, for some reason, were called regular army units" and asked foreign diplomats what their countries would have done, had they encountered such actions on their territory.

In conclusion, Saakashvili said Russia's and Europe's future was being decided in Georgia to a great extent and asked the international community to resolve all of Georgia's problems together. He said, otherwise, not only Georgia, but the entire region would encounter problems.

Prepared by BBC Monitoring

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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