Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dmitry Medvedev: Russia had no choice but to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia

У России не было иного выбора, кроме как признать независимость Абхазии и Южной Осетии: Дмитрий Медведев

"In consideration of the free will of the Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples and guided by the provisions of the UN Charter and other international documents, I signed a decree on behalf of the Russian Federation recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," stated Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today, August 28 in a piece he wrote entitled "The Right to Self-determination: Why I was compelled to recognize the breakaway regions of Georgia," published in the newspaper "Vedomosti."

As Medvedev notes, Russia's decision to recognize the independence "was not easy and was not done without fully appreciating the consequences." The President emphasizes that the potential consequences were weighed against a sober estimation of the situation--the history of the Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples, their freely given support for independence, the tragic consequences of the last few weeks, and the international precedents for similar actions." In his piece, the Russian leader reminds readers that after the breakup of the USSR "Georgia immediately deprived the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their autonomy. Can you imagine that the Tbilisi government closed the Abkhazian university in Sokhumi because they said that they didn't have a genuine language or history, so what use was a university? Having recently gained independence, Georgia began a vicious war against its own minorities, deprived thousands of people of their homes, and sowed seeds of discontent which would only grow."

In Medvedev's opinion, Western countries certainly had an effect on "the aspirations of South Ossetians and Abkhazians for freedom. They brought themselves closer to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose first step was to destroy the autonomy of yet another region, Adjara." "Western countries," the Russian president reminds readers, "hurried to recognize Kosovo's illegal proclamation of independence from Serbia. We consistently pointed out that after this it would be impossible to explain to Ossetians and Abkhazians (and dozens of other groups in the world) that this was beneficial for Kosovo Albanians, but it would not be beneficial for them. In international relations you cannot have one set of rules for one group and another for the rest."

Dmitry Medvedev emphasizes that Russia had no choice but to introuduce its army onto South Ossetian and Georgian territory after the events of August 7 and 8. "This war was not our choice," emphasizes the president, "we do not have any designs on Georgian territory. Our army entered Georgian territory in order to neutralize those bases which were supporting the attacks, and then they left. We restored peace, but we could not extinguish the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples' fear that Saakashvili would continue (with partnership and encouragement from the US and other NATO member countries) to talk of rearming his forces and restoring control over "Georgian territory." The presidents of the two republics appealed to Russia to recognize their independence."

In the conclusion of his piece in "Vedomosti," Medvedev emphasizes that Russia has friendly feelings towards the Georgian people and hopes that Georgia "will one day find leaders who are worthy of them, who will care for their country, and who will establish feelings of mutual respect among all peoples of the Caucasus."

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