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The US has seen the truth, says Saakashvili

By Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, June 28
On June 25 Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili responded to the meeting between the Presidents of the US and Russia and positively assessed the White House's use of the term “occupation” in reference to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a recognition that Russia is an occupying power. He added that this is an important step forward for Georgia.

“We have been working for two years to establish [the use of] this term [occupation] in international practice [with reference to Abkhazia and South Ossetia]. This is not and was not a simple task, because the term ‘occupation’ has concrete legal ramifications and historically has been very rarely used in international practice. However the outrageous actions Russia is conducting in Georgia are also very rare”, Saakashvili said.

The President also welcomed the fact that an exact legal evaluation has been given to what is happening in Georgia. “This is a very important step forward. As far as the legal-political assessment is concerned, from now on it is now precisely defined at the highest international level that we are dealing with an occupation and that the Russian troops in Georgia are occupiers,” he said.

Saakashvili added that Georgia welcomes both the fact that dialogue is being conducted between Russia and the United States and President Obama’s course in initiating this dialogue. He also mentioned that in this dialogue the United States remains committed to its principled position, based on the values the United States has, and it is a precondition for Georgia that this dialogue yields desirable results for everybody, including the 500,000or so Georgian citizens who cannot return to their own homes.

“Despite the rhetoric of the Russian leadership, which is full of threats, Georgia was, is and will be ready to hold in-depth dialogue with Russia on the return of about 500,000 citizens of all ethnicities who have been expelled from their homes, as well as on the deoccupation of Georgia and the full-scale normalisation of bilateral relations”, stated Saakashvili.

Prior of his statement the White House had released a ten-page fact sheet describing President Obama's "reset" of the relationship with Russia, which said that Washington continues “to call on Russia to end its occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” It also says that the Obama administration continues “to press for… a return of international observers to the two occupied regions of Georgia.”

During his meeting with Medvedev in Washington on June 24 President Obama stated that the United States and Russia still disagree on Georgia. “Our two countries continue to disagree on certain issues, such as Georgia, and we addressed those differences candidly,” Obama declared at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart in Washington. “But by moving forward in areas where we do agree we have succeeding in resetting our relationship, which benefits regional and global security. This includes, I would note, a change in attitude among the Russian people, who today have a far more favourable view of the United States, and that, in turn, creates more space for additional partnership,” the US President added.

On his side President Medvedev said that the issue of Georgia had been raised in the context of European security. “We believe that we share a common view that Europe should have a security system…We have some differences - and Mr. President mentioned it - in terms of, for example, the after-effects of the conflict that was initiated by Georgia’s leadership in 2008,” Medvedev said, adding that these differences do not prevent us from discussing the future and launching new mechanisms of contact.