Friday, August 15, 2008

Should Dmitry Medvedev sign the modified version of the ceasefire?

Подпишет ли Дмитрий Медведев скорректированный вариант соглашения о прекращении огня?

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced at a joint press conference with President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili on the evening of August 15th in Tbilisi that the Georgian president had signed the ceasefire agreement and that this agreement was in fact the version which had been agreed upon verbally by the presidents of Russia and Georgia the night of August the 13th.

On August 12th in Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a plan for resolving the conflict in the territory of Georgia, consisting of 6 points:

-no return to use of force

-cease all military activities

-provide free access for humanitarian aid

-return of Georgian forces to their places of permanent deployment

-withdrawal of Russian forces to pre-war positions. Until international mechanisms are put into place, Russian peacekeeping forces accept the responsibility of performing additional security measures.

-beginning of an international discussion about the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and ways to provide for their security.

However, after Sarkozy arrived in Tbilisi and familiarized the president of Georgia with the details of the plan, the latter asked him to modify it, to remove the phrase about the political status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from the text, noting that the aforementioned regions are unequivocally Georgian territory. The president of the Russian Federation, who was called by his French counterpart, agreed with the removal of the said item. Later, head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov stated that "President Sarkozy called President Medvedev before introducing this more precise definition of the sixth item into the text, and this more precise definition was accepted, since nothing in essence had changed." However, after this call, the Georgian president did not sign the modified document, which had been arranged only by verbal consent.

As Condoleezza Rice stated, the agreement signed today by the Georgians is a "ceasefire agreement, which does not provide for future developing events." "It includes the status quo for the period up to August 6th. Russian forces should leave the territory of Georgia and move from the conflict zones," she said. "These temporary measure will be put into effect until independent military observers can take their places in the conflict zones in the territory of Georgia," noted Condoleezza Rice.

"We support the sovereignty of Georgia, its independence, territorial integrity, democracy, and democratically elected government. But today there is a question which requires immediate attention--the immediate withdrawal of the Russian army from Georgian territory. The plan consists of 6 points, which both Russia and Georgia have said they will respect. According to these points, all regular and informal forces should leave the territory of Georgia immediately. This will help stabilize the situation in the country. But in order to achieve the latter, the presence of international observers and an unbiased international peacekeeping force are necessary," emphasized the US State Secretary.

"America's position is that for this purpose, an international peacekeeping force which will be a truly neutral party in the conflict, is necessary," she emphasized. In the Secretary of State's opinion, the agreement, which corresponds to UN Security Council resolutions and has been signed by the Georgian authorities, will promote the protection of Georgia's territorial integrity. Rice noted that the agreement "does not provide for any new political status for Abkhazia and South Ossetia which would contradict existing international documents." "I hope that President Medvedev will sign this document which Saakashvili has already signed, and before him, President of France and the EU, Sarkozy," she stated.

As Condoleezza Rice noted, a group of OSCE observers will arrive in Georgia within the next few days. And on Tuesday, August 12th there will be a NATO Council session in which a decision regarding the prospects of Georgia and Ukraine will be made.

It's not known yet whether the president of Russia will sign the document which was signed today by the Georgian government. It is known that on August 14th, heads of the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia accepted the plan for resolving relations with Georgia, which was approved by the presidents of Russia and France in Moscow, that is, the version which did not provide for the unconditional inclusion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.

IA Regnum

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