President Saakashvili said on May 12 that Russia’s recent actions were “prelude to act of occupation” and called on European Union not to turn a blind eye.
Speaking at a joint press briefing with visiting five EU foreign ministers in Tbilisi, Saakashvili said Tbilisi wanted to see EU more actively involved in resolving Georgia’s secessionist conflicts. Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish, Swedish and Slovenian foreign ministers paid one-day visit to Tbilisi on May 12 amid Georgia’s tensions with Russia.
“Our goal is to resolve this conflict peacefully and to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity,” Saakashvili said. “Recent actions by the Russian Federation are source of concern. We urge the European Union to formally investigate – although statements have already been made [by EU] - incident involving incursion of the Russian jet into the Georgian airspace, which conducted military action; we also request the EU to study, investigate and react on illegal movement of Russian peacekeeping forces. We also want EU’s more active involvement in the conflict resolution process. “
He also said that it was “absolutely clear” that the Russian peacekeepers were “not legitimate participants” of the peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia.
“Russia is the party in the process. Russia and its officials are violating international norms of conduct,” he added.
Saakashvili then showed a leaflet, published in Russia to promote Sochi as a host of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and said that “most part of the leaflet” was dedicated to Abkhazia and its 230-kilometer shoreline.
“This is a clear example of what the plans are,” Saakashvili said. “This leaflet is published much earlier than Kosovo’s independence was recognized, earlier than the NATO Bucharest summit and earlier than recent tensions.”
He then showed an U.S. congressional report published in 1955 about Georgia’s occupation by the Bolshevik red army in 1921.
“One can clearly see how those events [of 1921] resemble those of today,” Saakashvili said. “At that time the Bolshevik army intruded [into Georgia] under the pretext of assisting as if oppressed minority. At that time it ended up with Georgia’s occupation and annexation. What is now going on is an obviously act of annexation; a prelude to the act of annexation and act of occupation.”
“Europe left Georgia alone at that time [in 1921],” Saakashvili continued, “Europe did not even speak out.”
“I want to hand out this [1955 U.S. congressional] report to our European friends [and he gave it to five EU foreign ministers] in order to have a hope that Europe will never again makes the similar mistake. Because Georgia’s occupation was followed by the attack on Poland; occupation of the Baltic States and by bloody war in Finland. I hope that history will not be repeated so tragically.”
He also said that the entire Europe’s future was at stake. “Europe has not faced such a challenge since the end of the Cold War,” Saakashvili added.
He also pointed that Tbilisi was willing to resolve the conflict peacefully and to have “close and friendly relations with Russia.