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Georgian PM from UN Tribune: “Russia Withdrew Your Occupation Forces from Georgia”

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 1
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze addressed the UN General Assembly on late Thursday and urged Russia to withdraw its occupation forces from Georgian lands of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).

Unlike his predecessors, Bakhtadze delivered his speech in Georgian and stated that it is one of the most ancient languages of the world civilization.

The PM started his speech by speaking about September 27, 1993, when the central Georgian government lost its control over the currently Russian-occupied Abkhazia region.

He told the international community that the situation in the occupied territories is a humanitarian disaster at its worst.

“The growing militarization of these regions is in full swing, and depopulation is intensifying by the minute. Because of the grave humanitarian, socioeconomic, and human rights situation, the population in the occupied regions has dropped 5-6 times since the occupation.

“All this reiterates that the Russian Federation's main motivation was a military intervention to establish military bases in our territories, not to protect the rights or interests of the local population, as they publicly, officially declare. This true intention is witnessed firsthand on a daily basis by our citizens in the occupied territories,” the PM said and urged Russia to meet the 2008 ceasefire deal with Georgia and remove its troops from Georgian territories.

He said that Georgia has always been eager to take steps for the peaceful resolution of conflict, while Russia responded with continued aggression.

“Despite this injustice, our only response to these challenges is peace and Georgia's development. We have proposed a new peace initiative designed to overcome the humanitarian disaster in the occupied territories and create new opportunities for our citizens in the occupied territories. With this initiative, we are fighting to stop the process of depopulation in the occupied territories and to ensure respect for fundamental human rights,” Bakhtadze said.

He addressed the people living in the occupied regions and told them that “you should enjoy all the benefits put in place by Georgia, be it human rights, education, healthcare, or visa-free travel to Europe.”

Speaking about the Russia-Georgia 2008 war, the PM stated that the international community could not react adequately to the conflict.

“In 2008, aggression against Georgia was perceived in the world as a problem in the relations between only two countries.

“The way things unfolded further, however, showed that the then world was unprepared to provide an adequate assessment and response to this aggression. Unfortunately, the United Nations proved to be ineffective in the face of this challenge. Moreover, the system of global security is eroding before our very eyes. Today's world needs a stronger United Nations!” Bakhtadze said.

Speaking about the country’s economic policy and the strategic location, Bakhtadze said that a few years ago, Georgia addressed the world from the UN platform and offered to host the Silk Road Forum in Georgia.

“We have not only made this forum a reality but have also reclaimed Georgia's historical role in the wider Silk Road region.

“Today, however, I would like to propose a new initiative and offer you to facilitate the Tbilisi Forum focusing on transforming the Black Sea Region and the Caucasus, current areas of confrontation and challenges, into a space for peace, cooperation, and development.

“Georgia's every achievement, its democratic and economic development, and leading regional positions across a number of directions is the very result of our European and Euro-Atlantic choice, which is enshrined in the Constitution and the relevant parliamentary resolution,” he said.

The PM stated that the main priority for the government of Georgia is the protection of human rights.

The so-called Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia stated in response that “Georgia makes a mistake when they call us their citizens. Georgia and Abkhazia are neighboring countries.”