Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Russia officially recognizes independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, calls on others to follow example

Россия официально признала независимость Абхазии и Южной Осетии и призвала страны мира последовать ее примеру

The following is a complete transcript [translated by me] of the speech made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who today, August 26, approved the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The transcript is taken from the President's official site.

"Dear citizens of Russia!

You, of course, know of the tragedy in South Ossetia. The night attack by the Georgian army on Tskhinvali left hundreds of our peaceful citizens dead. Russian peacekeepers died performing their duty of protecting women, children, and the elderly to the very end.

The Georgian leadership, in violation of the UN Charter, of its own obligations according to international agreements, senselessly unleashed a conflict whose victims became civilians. The same fate awaited Abkhazia. Obviously, Tbilisi was counting on a blitzkrieg which would present the international community with a fait accompli. The most inhumane way was chosen to achieve this goal--to annex South Ossetia through the destruction of an entire people.

This was not the first attempt. In 1991, President of Georgia Gamsakhurdia with the slogan "Georgia for Georgians"--just think about these words--ordered the storming of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. Thousands killed, tens of thousands made refugees, villages leveled--that is what happened then. It was Russia who stepped in to stop the destruction of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian people. Our country became the intermediary and the peacekeeper, striving to reach a political solution. Accordingly, we began with the recognition of Georgia's territorial integrity.

The Georgian leadership chose a different path. The breakdown of talks, ignoring agreements once reached, political and military provocations, attacks on peacekeepers -- all of this contributed to the breakdown of the framework of operations established with the support of the UN and OSCE.

Russia showed patience and equanimity. We repeatedly called for a return to the negotiations table, and we did not abandon our position even after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. But our persistent requests to the Georgians to agree to the non-use of force against Abkhazia and South Ossetia went unanswered. Unfortunately, they were ignored by NATO and even the UN.

Now it is clear: a peaceful resolution to the conflict was never a part of Tbilisi's plan. The Georgian leadership methodically prepared for war, and the political and material support they received from their Western patrons only served to strengthen their sense of impunity.

On the evening of August 8, 2008, Tbilisi made its choice. Saakashvili chose genocide as the solution to his own political problems. In doing so, he eliminated all hope of peaceful co-existence of Ossetians, Abkhazians, and Georgians in one state. The people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia repeatedly expressed in referenda their support for the independence of their own republics. We understand that, after what has occurred in Tskhinvali and what was planned for Abkhazia, they have the right to determine their own destiny.

The Presidents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, based on the results of referenda and at the request of their parliaments, appealed to Russia to recognize the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Federation Council and the State Duma [of Russia] voted to support these appeals.

In view of this situation, it is necessary to make a decision. In consideration of the free will of the Ossetian and Abkhaz people, guided by the provisions of the UN Charter, by the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations Between States, and the 1975 CSCE Helsinki Accords, and by other foundational international documents, I have signed a decree on behalf of the Russian Federation recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia calls on other states to follow her lead. It is not an easy decision, but it is the only way to protect the lives of people."

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