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Merkel-Medvedev Georgia Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 15 Aug.'08 / 18:21

• Merkel: some of Russia’s actions disproportionate;
• Medvedev: breakaway regions unlikely to join Georgia;
• Medvedev: Abkhaz, S.Ossetians trust only Russians;

Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, said on August 15 it was unlikely Abkhazians and South Ossetians would agree to live in one state with Georgia; he also said although Moscow was not against of internationalization of peacekeeping process, there was little chance for that as the breakaway regions trusted only Russians.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, after talks in Sochi, Medvedev stepped up personal attacks on his Georgian counterpart. He said Mikheil Saakashvili decided to sidestep diplomatic efforts, which he “hates” and moved with the decision to solve the problem “in his way by taking over Ossetia.”

As a result, he continued, Russia used “the right of self-defense” and intervened to protect its citizens and peacekeeper.

“Peace needs to be re-established in the region and it should be guaranteed so that no one would get any idiotic ideas,” he said. “I see this as Russia’s major task.”

He has also warned that Russia would react in a similar way if something similar reoccurred in the future.

“Our peacekeeping mandate was fulfilled and implement and we will continue to fulfill it and if there is an action against our peacekeepers and citizens we will react as we reacted before and there should be no doubt about that,” Medvedev said.

The German Chancellor, who is expected to arrive in Tbilisi on Sunday, responded after Medvedev’s these remarks with a relatively moderate criticism of the Russia’s moves by saying: “Some of the actions of Russia were not proportionate.”

Then she added: “We do not think presence of Russian troops in Georgia’s central areas is reasonable.”
 
“We do need to implement the six-point plan and Russian and Georgian troops should be withdrawn from the central areas and I think the progress is already being made,” Merkel said.

When asked about Russia’s stance on Georgia’s territorial integrity, Medvedev said Moscow was not rejecting this “fundamental principle” of international law.

“But the question is in such a concrete situation and in a particular country,” he continued. “Unfortunately, after what has happened it is unlikely for the Ossetians and Abkhazians to live in a single state together with the Georgians. Titanic efforts will be needed to resolve this problem.”

“Russia as a guarantor in the Caucasus will take the decision which will reflect in a clear cut way the will of these two Caucasian peoples.

He said that he had discussed the matter with President Sarkozy and also with, as he put it, “leaders of unrecognized territorial entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

Merkel said responding to this question that at first a format in which issues related with the status would be discussed should be found.

She also added that she could not “pre-judge the outcome” of such discussions, but added that Georgia’s territorial integrity should be taken into account.

“In recent years and in fact decade we have not found solution to the conflict on the political level and we can not spend another fifteen years without finding a stable solution and part of this [solution] needs to be the territorial integrity of Georgia,” Merkel said.

The Russian President said that Moscow was not against of international peacekeepers on the ground.

“But the problem is that Ossetians and Abkhazians do not have confidence in anyone else except of Russians, because the recent history of last 15 years shows that the only troops capable to defend their interests are the Russian troops,” he said. “For that reason they consider that the Russian troops are the only guarantors of their interests and it should be taken into account.”

He, however, also said that discussions over the internationalization had already begun and would continue.

In this regard Chancellor Merkel made a clear distinction between international monitors and international peacekeepers. She said that having monitors on the ground was the priority at this stage.

OSCE Chairman-in-Office, the Finnish Foreign Minister, Alexander Stubb, requested the OSCE-member states to increase the organization’s monitors on the ground in the South Ossetian conflict zone up by 100.

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