Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said on December 4 that fences across South Ossetia are required to protect “borders” of “sovereign state” and it will no longer be needed after “hotheads cool down.”
He made the remarks after he was asked at a news conference following the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels about relations with Georgia, installing of fences across the administrative boundary line of breakaway South Ossetia by the Russian troops and Georgia’s NATO aspiration.
Lavrov said that NATO enlargement, not only in the context of Georgia but in general, represents “continuation of Soviet-old inertial logic of the ‘cold war’.”
“It implies not only preserving the dividing lines, which we have all committed to remove, but it’s also implies moving them [these lines] further to the East, which fundamentally contravenes commitments that we have undertaken at the highest level on indivisibility of security,” Lavrov said. “No one should take steps creating risks to the security of partners.”
On relations with Georgia in general, Lavrov said that Russia is in favor of “developing” these ties.
“We’ve heard and assessed approaches of new Georgian leadership. I think that practical development of our relationship in trade and economy, culture, humanitarian areas, in art and science, exchange of youth, which we think are very important, will allow us to better understand each other, especially when we have a very good basis of many years of joint co-existence, spiritual and historic closeness. I hope that these processes will continue,” Lavrov said.
On Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Lavrov said that for Russia these are “sovereign states”, which were recognized by Moscow following the August, 2008 war.
“We have recognized them and signed with them agreements on friendship and mutual assistance, we provide security of their borders, as well as military security,” he said.
“These are new realities in the Transcaucasus and these [realities] are gradually getting into minds,” Lavrov said, adding that the fact that South Ossetian and Abkhaz representatives are participating in the Geneva talks “on par” with Georgia, Russia, the U.S., EU, UN and OSCE, “confirms that there is no other way except of a dialogue.”
“As far as ‘wires’ [placing of fences] are concerned, borders should certainly be protected. Violations from the both sides should be prevented. There are rules reflecting the international practice. Wires will not be needed as ‘hotheads’ cool down,” he said.
He also said that building of “good neighborly relations between all the peoples of the Transcaucasus” should also be part of agenda of Russia-Georgia relations.
“I hope that the issue of restoration of the diplomatic relations, which were cut upon the Georgian side’s initiative [after the August 2008 war], will return back on the agenda,” Lavrov said.