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Tbilisi criticizes Russian MFA statement

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, October 21
The Russian Foreign Ministry's statement is yet another “cynical” attempt to avoid fulfilling Moscow’s international commitments, the Georgian Foreign Ministry stated late on Tuesday. Russian MFA said in its statement that with the withdrawal of the Russian “border checkpoint” from the village of Perevi the issue of an “alleged non-compliance” of Moscow with the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement is “finally closed”. “We hope that this step made by the Russian side, aimed at decreasing tensions on the borders of South Ossetia and Georgia will receive an adequate and constructive reaction from the Georgian side and the international community,” the statement of the Russian MFA reads.

Russian troops left the village of Perevi, Sachkhere region late on October 18, following the statement of the deputy Russian Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin about Moscow’s intention to pullout from Perevi made after the 13th round of Geneva talks. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that a “serious set of works” preceded the pullout: a bypassing 10 km-long road connecting Kardzmani Gorge with the rest of the South Ossetian territory was constructed. “It is very important for supplying the local Ossetian population,” according to the statement.

The Russian Federation is trying to portray the withdrawal of its troops from the village of Perevi as a “full implementation” of the August 12, 2008 agreement, Georgian Foreign Ministry said, adding that in reality the Russian Federation still occupies 20 percent of Georgia’s territory and has deployed several military bases and around ten thousand military servants on these territories. Tbilisi has stressed that human rights are being “roughly violated in Georgia’s occupied regions.” “In addition, hundreds of thousands of IDPs are not able to safely return to their homes and the Russian Federation keeps blocking EU Monitoring Mission from entering [in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region],” MFA statement says. Russia’s attempts to qualify pullout from Perevi as full implementation of its international commitments is “predestined to failure,” it continues.

The Georgian side had no illusions that Moscow would start the process of de occupation by withdrawing its troops from Perevi, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, Nino Kalandadze said. “The Russian Foreign Ministry statement is its continuation of the criminal policy of the occupant state,” she noted, adding that Moscow’s step was aimed at showing itself as a “civilized partner” in the eyes of the international community.

The withdrawal of Russian troops from Perevi village is the “beginning of Georgia’s de occupation, not the end of it,” head of the Analytical Department of Georgian Interior Ministry, Shota Utiashvili said on Wednesday. “Russia has to pullout from all the positions it took before August 7, 2008. There are many more places like these apart from Perevi, including Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia,” he added.

Georgian officials have repeatedly expressed their hopes of the pressure of international community on Moscow over Georgia’s issue. Deputy Georgian Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said that the “pressure has not stopped.” “The Russian Federation is trying to sell its step for a higher price by saying that it has completed fulfilling its international obligations,” Bokeria noted.

The opinion of the representatives of International community is the “absolute opposite” of Russia’s position, Georgian State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili said. “Nobody agrees with Russia’s statement. All the statements we have heard from the leaders of Germany, France and the leadership of the EU are the absolute opposite of those of Russia and coincide with our position that the withdrawal from Perevi is a small, but positive step,” he noted.