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President Saakashvili's Speech at the OSCE Summit in Astana
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Dec.'10 / 23:04

December 1, Astana

Thank you Mr. Chairman, distinguished heads of states and governments, ladies and gentlemen, allow me first of all to thank our Kazakh hosts, and you know, I have been in the city of Astana for the first time six years ago.
 
This very city is a great evidence of what leadership of personalities, what historic differences it can make. And I think it is very much attribute also to the great man Nursultan Nazarbayev with very rare vision about this city, about this country, about this region.
 
And I think it is a great example to follow for all the others also in this region. Our common mission at the summit is to agree on a set of concrete steps to make the OSCE a true security community one free of dividing lines, conflicts, spheres of influence, a community in which human rights are respected and people live in dignity.
 
We need a common vision for how to enforce the principles that define the OSCE, or how to foster a cooperation to quarrel rivalries and the strategy to help us overcome the danger of tensions and the so-called frozen conflicts that undermine the stability of our common area.
 
I am confident that we can make a substantial progress, but we cannot do it so if we ignore the difficulties we faced to overlook the progress or the result.
 
35 years ago the Helsinki Final Act marked a fundamental shift in the history of international relations by affirming a set of principles to bind the behaviors of states, this included the inviolability of borders, the peaceful settlement of disputes, the territorial integrity of states and respect for international law on human rights.
 
Unfortunately over three decades later these principles are still being violated within the OSCE area. 11 years ago at the last OSCE summit in Istanbul we witnessed the adoption of another set of fundamental principles, embodied in the Istanbul summit declaration and a charter for the European security. What a different time it has been, I remember President Yeltsin together with President Clinton sealing up of what was the end of Cold War in the OSCE area, on withdrawal troops, on arms control, the commitments that had to be complied with. If those commitments had been upheld, my country would have been liberated from the presence of foreign troops on her soil.
 
Unfortunately, the time has changed, the mood has changed and Russia [inaudible] on the obligations it undertook in Istanbul both with respect to Georgia and to other states. In fact contrary to the spirit of Istanbul, Russia has dramatically increased the size of its forces illegally stationed within our internationally recognized borders.
 
Today more than 12 000 heavily armed troops enforced the Russian occupation of 20 percent of Georgian territory, with tanks, with missiles, with heavy artillery, this is a blatant violation of the Helsinki principles, the Istanbul declaration, international law and August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement brokered by the European Union. If we treat these principles as dead letter, our community is destined to die as well.
 
By contrast, if we commit to implementing than we can make progress towards being a real security community, one in which there is mutual sympathy, trust, and sense of common interests. These commitments have to be respected in all three dimensions, not only in political, military area.
 
We all agree today that the human dimension is a pre-requisite for comprehensive and indivisible security. But in our case the human dimension commitment have been violated as well. In 1994- 1996 the OSCE summits in Budapest and Lisbon condemned the ethnic cleansing in Georgia and called for the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees.
 
Yet the number of IDPs and refugees in a country of less than 5 million people continue to increase, climbing up to 500 000 after the ethnic cleansing campaign of 2008. Half a million souls are thus deprived of their most basic human rights because of their origins, their nationalities, ethnicities, their faith, their political views. Human rights continue to be violated on a daily basis in the occupied regions; the OSCE has reported on this many times throughout the last two years as you all know very well.
 
These facts, ladies and gentlemen, must not be ignored or overlooked, and previous OSCE agreements must be fulfilled. I came here with a message of hope and a profound commitment to helping lead positive change in our security community.
 
We came here to tell you that these tragic facts can be reversed, that they will be reversed and that our conflict with the Russian Federation can be resolved. The way forward is through a comprehensive dialogue, not permanent confrontation.
 
We rely on the power of words, not of bombs. On November 23rd, one week ago I made the solemn pledge in front of the European Parliament, that Georgia would never use force to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty; that it will only resort to peaceful means in its quest for the de-occupation and the reunification of its territory. Even if the Russian Federation refuses to withdraw the occupational forces, even if less than 20% of original population remain in the occupied areas and 80% are held back to go back to their houses, even if its proxy militias multiply their human rights violations, Georgia will only retain the right to self-defense in case of new attacks and invasion of the Georgian territory that remains under control of the Georgian government.
 
We have made this pledge, because we believe that peace is the only way to achieve our legitimate and legal goals.
 
I have just sent letters formulizing Georgia's pledge to the Secretary-General of the OSCE, UN and NATO, as well as the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Council and the United States.
 
I came here animated by the same spirit, reiterating my call to the Russian leadership to engage in serious negotiations, to engage in dialogue rather than in polemics. Unfortunately, despite our numerous calls Russia has not agreed to any dialogue either bilaterally or within the framework of the OSCE.
 
Dialogue between Moscow and Tbilisi remains one of the stumbling blocks of the Astana declaration. Yet this organization is built upon dialogue and consensus.
 
Last summit 11 years ago we encountered serious difference and overcame the true dialogue. We must master the same resolve today because without dialogue we will never bridge our differences. I am committed without any reservations to engage in dialogue as soon as possible as to seek peaceful solutions of our conflicts.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, we all want to forge a new common space free of dividing lines, spheres of influence and intentions we have inherited from the history. We all want to have a true, security community.
 
We need stronger, better and more resolute OSCE, one that does not shy away from tackling the real problems and serves as forum for dialogue between partners, between all the leaders at every level. There has been a lot of arguments around the OSCE, there has been an attack on ODIHR for instance in terms of election monitoring.
 
It is ups and downs, we also had our arguments with them but I always believe that OSCE presence on monitoring for democratic process, election process, the whole democratic dialogue is very helpful to any country, especially for those who are coming out from cold to another kind of policy and to another sphere. Indeed, our region has been changing.
 
No country of the OSCE but one as well as basically no other serious country in the world recognized occupation of our regions. The region has been changing itself; the country has become more independent, more self-reliant, speaking out with their voice.
 
Today I was speaking with Roza Otunbayeva, who is herself a symbol of changing Kyrgyzstan, but also lots of changes in this region. I think, this is the whole change of its democratization, better security and OSCE is a very important instrument.
 
It was like this in the seventies, when it was in much more difficult situation of the cold war and it remains the same in today's world if we use it properly.
 
We must not allow the past to undermine our future, the tools we have at our disposal are dialogue and consensus.
 
Georgia is committed to this path and I am confident that strengthened OSCE peace and cooperation will prevail in our region.
 
Thank you.

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