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

Medvedev: Did the international community want Ossetians and Abkhazians to cease to exist?

Медведев: Хотело ли мировое сообщество, чтобы осетины и абхазы перестали существовать?

Today, August 15th, at a joint press conference given by both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was passing through Sochi, Medvedev addressed journalists, asking them to analyze the flow of information illuminating the events in South Ossetia.

"This tragedy which has occurred has us all glued to our television screens and other sources of information, including the internet. I myself, as an ordinary human being, get my information from there, besides the sources a president has. Regarding this, I wish to set before you three questions which I would like you to think over. Question one: Who was the first to begin military activities in South Ossetia, Russian peacekeepers or the Georgian army? Let's take a look at what was shown on TV. It's not clear! But we know the answer. Question two: Did the international community want Ossetians in South Ossetia, and subsequently Abkhazians in Abkhazia, to simply cease to exist as a result of these aggressions? And finally, question three: Do we regard what has happened as a humanitarian catastrophe or as the deeds of the Ossetians themselves and the Russian Federation? And if we ourselves answer these questions, then everything will become much clearer," concluded Dmitry Medvedev.

IA Regnum

Georgian MIA: Russian helicopter over Samtskhe-Javakheti

МВД Грузии: Российский вертолет добрался до Самцхе-Джавахети

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Eka Zguladze stated at an August 15th briefing that a Russian helicopter has been making regular trips over a large forest in Borjomi-Tsemi (a region of Samtskhe-Javakheti), and that "after each flight, a new fire erupts in the forest," reports an IA Regnum correspondent. According to Zguladze, there is no reason for local residents to panic. "In Samtskhe-Javakheti, the entire fire brigade has been mobilized and is helping local residents, and their combined efforts are working to extinguish the fires," she noted.

At the same time, the deputy minister sharply criticized the actions of the Russian armed forces. "Even when we are in a state of war, the Russian armed forces still violate all the rules of war. They have found creative ways to annoy us, but they won't succeed," stated Eka Zguladze.

IA Regnum

Russian President on Georgian-Ossetian conflict: "It's important that no one has any more idiotic ideas"

Президент России о грузино-осетинском конфликте: "Важно, чтобы никому в голову больше идиотских идей не приходило"

Russian peacekeepers remain guarantors of security in the Caucasus. The statement was made on August 15th at a press conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi.

"Unfortunately, things are still very complicated, nevertheless we have agreed with President of France Nicolas Sarkozy on the points [of the peace plan] and we consider them to be necessary and sufficient for the resolution of the problems. Now it's Georgia's turn," stated Medvedev, expressing hope that the points will be accepted and will begin to be implemented in the near future.

The Russian leader said that Russia expects an objective evaluation from the international community of the events which took place in South Ossetia. "Even more importantl is comprehensive support for the victims," added the Russian President. According to Medvedev, it is necessary to provide adequate security, medical aid, and the restoration of utilities. "It's necessary, in order to restore and guarantee peace in the region, that no one has any more idiotic ideas. It is the primary objective of Russia today. We will continue to discuss various question, but the beginning has been agreed upon." stated Medvedev

IA Regnum [Russian news agency]

Gori: Bombing of city has left 100 civilians dead

გორში დარჩენილი მოსახლეობის ინფორმაციით, ქალაქის დაბომბვისას მშვიდობიანი მოსახლეობიდან, დაახლოებით, 100 ადამიანი დაიღუპა

According to Gori residents still there, as a result of the bombings on their city, approximately 100 people have perished.

As "Interpressnews" reporters on the ground, Jambuli Kamushadze and Aleksandre Giunashvili, tell us, 100 people have died. According to them, among the dead is surgeon Gia Guligashvili, who came to the city during the bombing to volunteer his services. In addition, the center of the city has been looted of all goods. Those on the scene say that on the whole, Chechen and Ossetian soldiers were busy pillaging; the Russian forces were busy looting Georgian military bases.

Above all, shops and homes located in the center of Gori and in the Tsminda Tsklis ["holy water"] region have been looted.

Interpressnews [Georgian news agency]