6 Western countries urge Russia to withdraw from Georgia
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States and five European countries on Thursday marked the 11th anniversary of the conflict between Russia and Georgia with an appeal to Moscow to implement agreements reached in 2008 to withdraw its military forces to positions held before hostilities began.
After closed U.N. Security Council consultations, the ambassadors of Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Britain and the United States issued a statement supporting Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Georgia made a botched attempt to regain control of the breakaway province of South Ossetia during the presidency of Mikhail Saakashvili, sparking the war with Russia beginning on Aug. 7, 2008. Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia as well as the breakaway province of Abkhazia and set up military bases there.
The six countries said they are “extremely concerned” about Russia’s deepening security relationship with those two areas as well as the “intensification of the so-called borderization process,” which they said prolong the conflict and destabilize George and the region. They again called on Russia to implement the agreements of Aug. 12 and Sept. 8, 2008, which include “commitments to ensure that armed forces withdraw to positions held before hostilities began, and to establish an international security mechanism.”
Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters later that “we see this tragic event as part of history.”
He said Georgia paid “a big price for this tragic mistake” committed by Saakashvili, “and we see that the only way to make relations in the Caucuses prosper and to ease all the tensions is now through the dialogue between Georgia and two independent states.”
Polyansky said the position of the Western countries “is not very much helpful to this.”