Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

August 25, 2008

Meeting with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:16 am

On 22 August 2008 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze met with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, President of Ukraine’s special representative Konstantin Eliseev.

The Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia provided his Ukrainian counterpart with exhaustive information concerning the situation resulting from the unlawful actions of the Russian occupation army as well as on the population affected by ethnic cleansing.

Mr Eliseev reaffirmed the Ukrainian side’s readiness to assist Georgia in overcoming the crisis. He also focused on the measures considered to be expedient in terms of Ukraine’s national security interests.

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Meeting with Italian Ambassador

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:16 am

On 22 August 2008 a meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Italy to Georgia Vittorio Sandalli.

The meeting was attended by Ms. Nino Baratashvili, Counsellor of the First European Division of the European Affairs Department.

The sides discussed the issues of aggression and ethnic cleansing conducted by the Russian side in Georgia.

The Italian Ambassador once again confirmed the support and solidarity of his country towards Georgia.

Meeting with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:15 am

On 22 August 2008, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eka Tkeshelashvili and State Minister for Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili held a meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Alexander Stubb.

The sides discussed the situation consequent to the Russian Federation’s intervention in Georgia and the issues related to implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed through the mediation of the President of France.

The sides also discussed prospects for elaboration of an international peace format aimed at resolution of the conflicts in Georgia and immediate steps to be taken shortly afterwards. The Finnish Foreign Minister stated that the assignment of an additional contingent of OSCE monitors to Georgia is an initial step for developing a new international peace mechanism.

The sides agreed to continue active cooperation on the issues of priority.

Following the meeting, the Georgian and Finnish Foreign Ministers held a joint press conference:

Press conference transcript:

Mrs. Eka Tkeshelashvili:

Greetings! I’d like to brief you on main aspects of our meeting.

As far as you know twenty OSCE monitors will shortly arrive in Georgia to assess the extent to which the Russian side complies with its commitments under the ceasefire agreement. It is the beginning of the process. OSCE plans to increase the number of monitors soon and extend the scope of their activity. We therefore discussed the ways in which this mission should be carried out and the area that needs to be covered by monitors and international observers. We also focused on the role the European Union should play in resolving the existing crisis.

Today we are faced with two tasks. The first task is a short-term one and envisages ensuring full compliance with the ceasefire agreement, which means that the Russian side should not be allowed to interpret this agreement wrongly and unilaterally and continue, based on its own discretionary decisions, deploying Russian troops on the territory of Georgia. We are also seriously focused on the second stage of the process, which will ensue after reaching compliance with the ceasefire agreement and de-escalation of the situation. This second stage envisages achieving restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity through international peaceful mechanisms and full protection of human rights throughout the entire territory of Georgia, which will prevent further emergence of such ‘uncontrolled places’ where human rights violations will run rife and criminal regimes will become a functioning reality. It must forever become a past chapter of Georgian history. The population on the territory of Georgia whatever their ethnic origin should be allowed the opportunity to benefit from the rule of law, democracy, absolute protection of human rights, they should consider themselves members of a European country and enjoy all the benefits of being citizens of a European country.

I would like to thank once again our guest for his personal and active involvement in the problem resolving process both in the capacity as OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Finnish Foreign Minister. Let me give him the floor.

Mr. Alexander Stubb:

Thank you very much.

I would like to stress three points. Point number one is about our operation of military monitors. So far things run very smoothly. We will able to bring in totally twenty monitors by this weekend, including seven so called APCs, armored vehicles with contributions from many OSCE countries. I think they will have calming effect on the ceasefire. And I think this very important element in providing us with objective information. It is very important that with the leadership of Colonel Lieutenant Steven Yang we can get this operation up and running. And that is what we are doing together with the head of the mission Terhi Hakala. So, point number one the operation of military observance is running smoothly.

Point number two. I still think that the ceasefire agreement is fragile, that is why we must focus all of our efforts to the withdrawal of the troops and to return to normalcy. I think the military monitors will play a very important role in this. But remember we must now focus on the withdrawal of troops. We hope that this process takes place smoothly.

Point number three. I think it is time for us in the international community not to start thinking of true international assessment of this conflict. We need to start reflecting upon how we arrange the future of stabilization of the region, how and what form of peacekeepers, international peacekeepers will be brought in, how do we get the political process going, will we have a high representative for the region, what is the long-term prospective. Because, all of us are involved in these processes from the beginning, we are in this process from the long run. So, that’s why we must start thinking of how all of us, the international community, the USA, the EU, the UN, the OSCE, Russia can solve this conflict and stabilize the region.

So, these are three main points that I wanted to stress. Thank you.

Timeline for 22nd August, to 20:00

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:15 am

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
but is subject to verification.

22 AUGUST

20:00 Russian troops are leaving Gori and Khashuri in eastern Goergia and Senaki and Khobi in Western Georgia. Russian troops remain in Poti and village Perevi in Sachkhere district.

19:30 Russian troops explode remaining installations of military base near Gori in village Khurvaleti.

14:30 Russian troops start withdrawal from Igoeti and Kaspi 25kms from Tbilisi towards Gori. Gori remains under Russian control.

14:00 100 armored vehicles start movement from Senaki towards Zugdidi. Russian troops still remain in Senaki and Poti.

12:00 Deputy Chief of Staff of Russian Army Anatoly Nogovitsin says on press conference that Russia will keep 18 checkpoints on South Ossetian-Georgian “border” and in buffer zone. The same amount of Check points and 2142 soldiers will remain on Georgian-Abkhazian “border”.

10:00 No evidence of Russian troops withdrawal is observed by 10:00

02:30 Unknown explosive device exploded in Marneuli, installed under the railway bridge – no damage reported

Reportedly antitank missile or explosive exploded under the Imiri railway bridge, Marneuli district, 25 kms south from Tbilisi. The bridge was not damaged

Russian troops dig entrenchments in village Chuberi near Enguri Power Plant. Military presence of Russian troops reported at the dam infrastructure of power plant.

August 22, 2008

Ukraine-Georgia press conference

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:10 am

On 19 August 2008, at the GUAM press centre in the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Ukraine Merab Antadze and GUAM Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvili held a press conference for representatives of the mass media and diplomatic missions concerning the consequences of the Russian-Georgian conflict.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Ukraine Merab Antadze discussed the reasons behind the Russian-Georgian conflict and the consequences that ensued after the Russian Federation’s military aggression and ethnic cleansing conducted in Georgia.

GUAM Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvili focused the attention of the attending audience on the fact that Russia’s actions resulted in the disruption of regional cooperation and blockade of energy and transport communications and called on the chairs of the international organizations of which Russia is a member to exert pressure on Moscow in order to bring it back within the frames of international law.

Mr. Chechelashvili noted that with its actions Russia undermined BlackSeaFor, disintegrated CIS, restored the Big Seven and denied itself access to WTO and the right to act as a mediator in conflict resolution process on the territory of Georgia.

Civilians Killed by Russian Cluster Bomb ‘Duds’

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:10 am

(Tbilisi, August 21, 2008) – Georgian and Russian authorities should take urgent measures to protect the civilian population in Georgian villages from unexploded ordnance left by Russian attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch researchers documented additional Russian cluster munitions attacks during the conflict in Georgia, refuting Russia’s earlier denials that it used the weapon.
Human Rights Watch researchers saw and photographed unexploded submunitions from cluster munitions in and around the villages of Shindisi, in the Gori district of Georgia. Residents from Shindisi and the nearby Pkhvenisi village told Human Rights Watch researchers there are hundreds of unexploded submunitions in the area. Submunition “duds” are highly dangerous and can explode if picked up or otherwise disturbed.

“Many people have died because of Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Georgia, even as Moscow denied it had used this barbaric weapon,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Many more people could be killed or wounded unless Russia allows professional demining organizations to enter at once to clean the affected areas.”

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on August 8, 2008, Russian air strikes on Georgian armored units located near Shindisi and Pkhvenisi were followed by extensive cluster munition strikes that killed at least one civilian and injured another in Shindisi. At least two more civilians were killed and five wounded in the following days when they handled unexploded submunitions, including an incident 10 days after the initial strikes. As of August 20, Shindisi and Pkhvenisi areas remain under Russian control.

Zviad Geladze, 38, points to a cluster munition strike on the path to his farm field. © 2008 Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch called upon Russia to immediately stop using cluster munitions, weapons so dangerous to civilians that more than 100 nations have agreed to ban their use. Human Rights Watch also called on Russia to provide precise strike data on its cluster attacks in order to facilitate cleanup of areas contaminated by submunitions. Human Rights Watch called on Georgia to undertake an immediate risk education program for its population, including radio and television announcements about the dangers of submunitions.

In Shindisi, Human Rights Watch researchers saw unexploded dual purpose (anti-armor and antipersonnel) submunitions, commonly known as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) submunitions.

“Highly dangerous unexploded bomblets now litter farms, roads, and pathways in Shindisi and Pkhvenisi,” said Garlasco. “People remaining in these areas don’t realize the dangers these submunitions pose and are at serious risk of injury or death if they handle, or even approach, the bomblets.”

Human Rights Watch first reported on Russian use of cluster munitions in Georgia on August 15, after it identified strikes on Gori and Ruisi on August 12 that killed at least 11 civilians and injured dozens more. Russia subsequently denied any use of cluster munitions. Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy head of the Russian General Staff, stated on August 15, “We did not use cluster bombs, and what’s more, there was absolutely no necessity to do so.”

Unexploded Russian submunitions found by Human Rights Watch researchers in Shindisi, a village in the Gori region of Georgia. These submunition “duds” are highly dangerous and can explode if picked up or otherwise disturbed. © 2008 Human Rights Watch

Zura Tatrishvili, 62, showed Human Rights Watch researchers an unexploded submunition that he had picked up without realizing that just touching it could make it explode. “We were playing with them, as were the Georgian soldiers,” said Tatrishvili. “It was only when one of the bombs exploded after a soldier threw it that we understood that they were dangerous.” Even now, Tatrishvili continues to keep his livestock in a pen with unexploded submunitions, demonstrating the need for clearance as well as education.

During the attack on August 8 in Shindisi, Vano Gogidze, 45, was killed and his relative, Dato Gogidze, 39, was injured. Also in Shindisi, Ramaz Arabashvili, 40, was killed and four people were wounded when a submunition that they had gathered from a field exploded on August 10. On August 18, in Pkhvenisi, Veliko Bedianashvili, 70, died when a submunition exploded in his hand. “There are so many of these lying around. The fields are full of them,” said his son, Durmiskhan Bedianashvili.

Zviad Geladze, 38, showed Human Rights Watch researchers fields contaminated with submunitions. He estimated the submunitions covered an area extending at least one kilometer through his farm. The fields are full of produce ready to harvest. Because humanitarian agencies continue to lack access to much of the Gori region, fields like Geladze’s may provide residents of the region with their only food source.

Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions or bomblets and cause unacceptable humanitarian harm in two ways. First, their broad-area effect kills and injures civilians indiscriminately during strikes. Second, many submunitions do not explode, becoming de facto landmines that cause civilian casualties for months or years to come.

Under international humanitarian law, indiscriminate attacks including attacks in populated areas with weapons that cannot be targeted solely at military targets are prohibited. Russia has an obligation not only to cease any such attacks, but also to take all necessary measures now to ensure the safety of the civilian population in areas over which it exercises effective control.

Human Rights Watch called on Georgia, which is known to have cluster munitions in its stockpiles, to join the international move to ban the use of cluster munitions and to publicly undertake not to use such weapons in this conflict. Neither Russia nor Georgia was part of the Oslo Process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions. In May 2008, 107 nations adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of the weapon. It will be open for signature in Oslo on December 3.

Restricted freedom of movement for diplomatic corps through Georgia

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:09 am

On 21 August 2008 the Embassy of the Russian Federation to Georgia sent a Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. The Note, in particular, indicates: ‘in order to arrange civilized movement throughout Gori for the delegations and persons intending to arrive or already present in Georgia and planning to travel to Gori, the Embassy requests advance notification on any such travel plan, delegation members, travel objectives and duration, transport vehicles and itinerary. In the given situation the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation must obtain such information in order to give respective instructions to the peacekeeping command, which will further ensure unhindered movement’.

In the aftermath of ethnic cleansing and mass and flagrant violation of human rights perpetrated by the Russian army on the territory of Georgia, the Russian Federation undertook to restrict freedom of movement for the diplomatic corps throughout the territory of Georgia. It points clearly to the degree of Moscow’s compliance with the ceasefire agreement signed by the Russian President and provides another proof of continued occupation of Georgian territory by the Russian armed forces.

By undertaking such actions, the Russian Federation grossly violates provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Article 26 of the Convention, in particular, stipulates that the receiving State shall ensure to all members of the diplomatic corps freedom of movement and travel throughout all of its territory.

Russia’s actions in Georgia contradict such universally recognized norms and principles of international common and codified law, which provide the basis and guarantee for establishing each state as a subject of international law within the international system.

It is a regrettable fact that the Russian Federation being a legal successor to the Soviet Union continues to base its actions on Soviet-imperialist traditions.

Extraordinary joint meeting

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 6:09 am

The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Security and Defence and the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus held an extraordinary joint meeting on 20 August 2008 to discuss the situation in Georgia.

French Minister of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet was invited as a rapporteur at the first part of the session, which was closed to the public. Following his address European Parliament members heard the remarks of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Eka Tkeshelashvili.

A majority of members of the European Parliament expressed their solidarity with and support for Georgia. The meeting condemned Russia’s aggressive actions. It was decided that the situation in Georgia will be discussed at the first plenary session of the European Parliament scheduled to take place at the beginning of September and that the European Parliament will adopt a respective resolution.

‘Given Russia defying its international commitments, the European Union can no longer continue its usual way of cooperation with Russia’ – Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Jacek Saryusz-Wolski is quoted as saying.

The focus of discussions was also the type of economic and political assistance the European Union may render to Georgia in the given situation.

August 21, 2008

Timeline for 21st August, to 21:00

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 1:11 pm

The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge,
but is subject to verification.

21 AUGUST

21:00 Russian troops once again fail to pullout as agreed
Russia again delayed the pullout of its troops. According to the Commander of Russian Ground Forces, Army General Vladimir Boldirev, the process of withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia will take 10 days. He declared that peacekeeping checkpoints will start operating from August 22nd and remaining Russian troops will pullout in the coming ten days.

19:30 Russian militaries release 10 soldiers out of 20, captured on 19th of August in Poti Port.

18:00 Russian military handed 62 Georgian civilian hostages to Georgian side. Government of Georgia claims 101 more civilians are kept by Russian side in Tskhinvali.

16:00 According to the Foreign Minister of Finland and the OSCE Chair in Office Alex Stubb, there is little evidence of Russian troops withdrawing.

Russia restricts the freedom of movement throughout territory of Georgia
Embassy of the Russian Federation to Georgia handed a Note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, according to which the Ministry of Defense of the RF must be in advance notified about any planned travel of all delegations and persons to Gori. The statement of Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers this as an attempt from Russian side to restrict the freedom of movement for the diplomatic corps throughout the territory of Georgia and serves as another proof of continued occupation of Georgian territory by the Russian armed forces.

15:00 Russians creating a buffer zone
According to Anatoly Nogovitsin,Ddeputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Russian forces will establish two lines of checkpoints in “a security zone” in the vicinity of South Ossetia“. “The first line will include eight checkpoints across the line of zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers. The second line – involving 10 checkpoints – will be set across the administrative border of South Ossetia. Total of 272 soldiers will be deployed on the eight checkpoints of the first line,” he declared, and added that there will be a buffer zone between these two lines. Nogovitsin did not give any other details or specifics about the exact area of the zone; however he said that the town of Gori would not be included in the zone.

11:00 Ambassador of France to Georgia Eric Fournier is being blocked near Gori by Russian troops on his way from Satchkhere to Tbilisi and is prevented to continue his drive. He has been allowed to continue at 13:00.

10:30 Russian troops dig entrenchments in Poti

• Russian occupants start digging entrenchments in Poti. Russian `BMP` armored tanks and `URAL` trucks are located at the Nabadi territory at the entrance of the city

As reported, Russian troops open fire on Humanitarian Airplanes above Gori.

Another illegal act carried out by the Russian Federation’s armed forces

Filed under: Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — georgiamfa @ 1:11 pm

It has become known that the Russian Federation’s armed forces illegally stationed on the territory of Georgia are mounting yet another provocation. In particular, Russian servicemen with the use of appropriate equipment are building a fixed control checkpoint on the Senaki-Poti highway, in the vicinity of the entrance to Poti, on the so-called 7th kilometer.

The aforesaid fact indicates the Russian side’s yet another attempt to proceed with and further expand its military intervention in and occupation of the territory of Georgia. It needs to be noted that Poti is located approximately 30 kilometers from the conflict zone of Abkhazia and approximately 160 kilometers from the conflict zone of the Tskhinvali region.

Against the background of the Russian Federation’s statement made at the highest level, actual facts of withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Georgia point quite to the contrary.

We once again call on the international community to employ all resources at its disposal to put an end to Russian aggression.

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