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US backs Georgia at Munich conference

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, February 4
Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maia Panjikidze, attended the Munich Security Conference.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, were among the high-ranking guests of the conference. Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and several heads of state, as well as several dozen foreign and defense ministers from around the world were also among the participants of the conference.

In a speech the US Vice President Joe Biden delivered at the conference, he reminded the Russians that the US can never agree on a number of issues with them. “For example, the United State will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We will not recognize any nation having a sphere of influence. It will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decision and choose their own alliances," he said.

Biden also spoke about the Georgia’s aspiration to join the Euro-Atlantic zone and revealed that countries like the US should share the responsibility to help Georgia, as well as Balkan countries to achieve the goal. “We also know there is unfinished business in our common project of a Europe whole and free. Georgia and the Balkan states have unfulfilled aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration. The pace of these integration efforts will be determined by the aspirants themselves. But we too share a responsibility for helping them achieve their rightful place in Europe and the Transatlantic Alliance,” Biden said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finds it absolutely unreal to take back the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “The US says Russia should take back recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which is absolutely unreal. Whether you like it or not, it was the Russian President’s decision which was backed by the parliament. The US also says we should preserve flank limits, and this is also absolutely unacceptable to us,” Lavrov said in Munich.

Biden’s statement regarding Georgia was accepted by the Georgian delegation as another display of US support. “Certainly it was a very important statement for us,” Panjikidze told the media in Munich. She said it is very important that Georgia has strong support from US and this fact is emphasized by the Vice President himself.

Speaking at the Munich conference, Panjikidze once again mentioned the fact that 20% of Georgian territory is still occupied by Russians. The minister said this is an alarming fact and a great threat to the security and stability in the region. She also confirmed that Georgia remains committed to democratic principles and strives to be integrated with the Euro-Atlantic region. “Integration with NATO remains the key priority for the new government. The vast majority of the Georgian population supports this choice and we will do everything to meet the people’s demand,” Panjikidze said.

In the frames of the conference on February 1, Panjikidze held meetings with the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel Daniel Ayalon. She also met with Brazil’s Foreign Minister, who is going to visit Georgia within the framework of the Caucasus tour.