Press conference by Georgia

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"The Russian side still continues to grossly violate the provisions of the six-point ceasefire agreement, which mandates restoration of the status quo existing prior to the breakout of hostilities", Georgia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations told correspondents this morning at Headquarters.

Irakli Alasania, reacting to a 9 October press release issued by the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation regarding the withdrawal of "so-called peacekeeping forces" from Georgia, said that, after the 7 August aggression against Georgia, Russian military units in parts of Georgian territory could only be described as "an occupation force". Any reference to their "peacekeeping status" was deprived of any legal basis. Mr. Alasania then went on to describe in detail an increase of Russian military contingents and combat armament in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, adding that there were also huge concentrations of separatist paramilitary troops and illegal militia units in the Russian occupied territories of Georgia.

He said the "illegal" Russian military presence and build-up in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were "in flagrant violation" of point 5 of the 12 August six-point ceasefire agreements. Preventing monitors of the European Union and other international organizations from accessing the occupied regions and artificially obstructing provision of humanitarian aid throughout the occupied territories of Georgia were other violations of that agreement. An increasing number of terrorist acts against Georgian officials, policemen and peaceful civilians were taking place, including the explosion of two time-bombs when members of the European Union Monitoring Mission came to investigate an incident in the village of Mushava.

Military troops of a permanent member of the Security Council had invaded a United Nations Member State and were still occupying integral parts of that Member State, he said. The Russian Federation was trying to unilaterally alter the borders of a sovereign State through the use of military force, thereby violating international law. Georgia, along with the international community, is of the opinion that "true progress" can only be achieved if the Russian occupation troops are withdrawn from the entire territory of Georgia, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the European Union Monitoring Mission could gain access to the territory of both breakaway regions.

He said the international community must continue its strong "non-recognition" policy in order to prevent the legitimization of the secessionist regimes, which, along with the Russian occupying forces, were the main perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and denied hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens the right to live in peace on their own land. He hoped that the meeting that was to start in Geneva tomorrow would be more productive than the talks in October, and that the representatives of the breakaway territories would be more forthcoming.

Answering numerous questions about reports that OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] monitors had contradicted Georgia's vision of events, Mr. Alasania stressed repeatedly the importance of an international independent investigation into the events, saying that Georgia was committed to providing the investigators with all information required, "even classified material". Georgia had requested such an investigation since the beginning of hostilities, he said, underlining that the statements were made by the observers in their personal capacity, and not on behalf of the OSCE.

Not wanting to prejudge such a situation, he said that, from the Georgian perspective, it was clear how the war started, but "where there are reports", there is a need for investigations. There were other reports, among others, from Abkhazia, that Russian troops were already on the ground. Seen from the Georgian side, it was clear that the Russian Federation had invaded Georgian territory by military force, that they had started to ethnically cleanse villages and that they were not fulfilling their obligations under the six-point agreement, which, among other things, asked for a return to the situation before 7 August.

Asked whether Georgia had been disappointed by the international community's response, he said his country would need the international community's help in fulfilling the provisions of the ceasefire agreement. The clear-cut military aggression and the ethnic cleansing were indisputable. The strong positions the United Nations and the United States had taken had probably made the Russians back off from gaining control of the Georgian capital. They had also backed off from one of their goals, namely, to change a democratically-elected regime. United States support for Georgia had been bipartisan, but Georgia's President had not yet spoken with the President-elect. The United States had pledged $1 billion for reconstruction, and the Governments were in close contact to work out details.

As for reports that Georgia's chances of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had diminished and that even the United States was backing off, he said the political decision for joining had been made regarding Georgian and Ukrainian membership. Georgia now needed time to recover, in order to meet the standards required by NATO for joining.

Freedom for the media was one of the main goals of the Georgian President, he answered to another question. That had been stressed during his address to the General Assembly this September. Changes would be implemented that would guarantee freedom of the media, which would be another wave of the Georgian revolution.

Asked about reports of Ukrainian involvement during the conflict, he said those reports were "totally groundless".

For information media - not an official record