Aug 8, 2010
"When the memories of August 2008 tragedy reappear in the minds of many Georgians, many regions of Russian federation face the ecological catastrophe. The fire has burnt lots of populated districts, there are some victims. These facts do not leave the world neutral. We do think that Georgia has to express will to support thousands of people. Me, Ana Rekhviashvili, says the student of Moscow Diplomatic Academy, - who created these movement together with my friends and other like-minded people, will take the responsibility to bring a certain number of children and young people in Georgia, who extremely need moral support and help from us.We have to do that, and this will be a beginning of tomorrow's peaceful relations between the two countries".
Oct 2, 2009
In Phaedrus's well-known fable of the wolf and the lamb, the wolf could easily have eaten the lamb without a word, but prefers to set out his "reasons". First, he scolds the lamb for muddying his drinking water (even though the wolf was upstream). Then he argues that last year the lamb had called him bad names (but the lamb was only six months old). The wolf then snarls that if it was not the lamb, it was his father; after that, he immediately moves into action.
The wolf's "justifications" for his evil action were a luxury that he allowed himself. At present, the United Nations Charter legally binds wolf-states – that is, the Great Powers – to offer justifications for their use of armed violence. This is all the more necessary for the Security Council's five permanent members because, aside from condemnation by public opinion, no sanctions are available against them for any serious breach of the charter.
Russia has set forth various reasons to justify its armed intervention in Georgia where the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are nonetheless under Georgian sovereignty. Russia argues that its invasion was aimed at (1) stopping Georgia's aggression against South Ossetians; (2) ending ethnic cleansing, genocide, and war crimes committed by Georgia there; (3) protecting Russian nationals; and (4) defending South Ossetians on the basis of the peace-keeping agreement signed by Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze in 1992.
None of these legal grounds holds water. By sending its troops to South Ossetia, Georgia no doubt was politically reckless, but it did not breach any international rule, however nominal its sovereignty may be. Nor do genocide or ethnic cleansing seem to have occurred; if war crimes were perpetrated, they do not justify a military invasion. Moreover, South Ossetians have Russian nationality only because Russia recently bestowed it on them unilaterally. Finally, the 1992 agreement authorises only monitoring of internal tensions, not massive use of military force.
Hence, as in Phaedrus's fable, the Kremlin's "justifications" are empty. Russia has breached Article 2 of the UN Charter, which enjoins member states to "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."
There are several morals to the tale. First, when a lamb like Georgia gets smart and requests the protection of another wolf – in this case Nato – he must be careful, for every wolf guards his territory and is bent on "protecting" all those lambs that fall under his "jurisdiction".
Second, although Great Powers are de facto unbound by international rules on the use of force, they abide by a sort of unwritten "agreement between scoundrels" to behave similarly. The west violated that agreement in 1999 in Kosovo: Nato powers first attacked Kosovo and Belgrade, in breach of the UN Charter (although they were morally justified to do so, because there was a need to stop the serious atrocities underway); the west then promoted and blessed Kosovo's secession. As a result of that perilous precedent, Russia no longer feels bound by the unwritten agreement.
Finally, because it is mostly civilians that have suffered and are still suffering in Georgia, it is imperative for the world community to promote a lasting solution, as is stipulated in the agreement promoted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. But a lasting solution is nowhere in sight, because Russian forces, in blatant breach of that agreement – and of international customary law – remain in many parts of Georgia beyond Abkhazia and South Ossetia. These two regions have now proclaimed their independence, and Moscow has given its blessing to a secession that is likely to be the stepping stone to incorporation by Russia.
Georgia has taken the path that lambs (small countries) normally choose when facing wolves (major powers), brandishing law as a weapon. It has instituted legal proceedings against Russia before both the International Court of Justice for alleged violations of the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination and the European Court of Human Rights for alleged breaches of Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Because Georgia is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, it could have requested the ICC Prosecutor to investigate Russia's allegations of war crimes and genocide as well as its own allegations of Russian crimes. Strangely, it has not done so, though, fortunately, the ICC Prosecutor has announced that he is keeping the situation in Georgia "under analysis".
Plainly, by itself the law may not be able to offer the right solution in such a complex and dangerous situation. Only politics and diplomacy can offer a lasting solution. Nevertheless, with both sides claiming the mantle of international law, authoritative legal decisions about these issues might perhaps push the parties to reach a lasting agreement.
Antonio Cassese, the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and later the chairperson of the United Nations' International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, teaches law at the University of Florence.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2008.
Oct 1, 2009
By SVANTE E. CORNELL
This week's much-anticipated European Union-commissioned report into the causes of the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 predictably spread the blame for the conflict around. While Georgia was also censured, the text is devastating to Russia's narrative of the conflict.
Assisted by a small army of experts, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini has spent close to a year investigating the origins of the war that initially shocked Europe but then was relatively quickly forgotten in the midst of the global economic crisis that succeeded it. As expected, both sides have claimed that the 40-page report—with a thousand pages of appendices—vindicates their version of events. Yet anyone who bothers to read the document will find that the Tagliavini Commission apportions the overwhelming part of the responsibility for the conflict on Moscow. In fact, it rejects practically every item in Russia's version of what supposedly happened last year.
The press has so far focused on the commission's conclusion that Georgia started the war. That should, however, not be confused with the question of responsibility: Firing the first shot does not necessarily mean being the aggressor. The report acknowledges this, concluding that, "there is no way to assign overall responsibility for the conflict to one side alone." The report details the extended series of Russian provocations, accelerating in the spring of 2008, that precipitated the war.
The report faults Georgia for lacking a legal basis for its attack on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, and for the use of indiscriminate force there. But on the crucial Georgian claim that it was responding to a Russian invasion, the report equivocates: The mission is "not in a position" to consider the Georgian claims "sufficiently substantiated." This is an exercise in semantics, since the next sentences acknowledge that Russia provided military training and equipment to the rebels, and that "volunteers and mercenaries" entered Georgian territory from Russia before the Georgian attack. One is left wondering what would be necessary for a spade to be called a spade.
But the report is far more devastating in its dismissal of Russia's justification for its invasion—in fact surprisingly so for an EU product. As will be recalled, Russia variously claimed it was protecting its citizens; engaging in a humanitarian intervention; responding to a Georgian "genocide" of Ossetians; or responding to an attack on its peacekeepers. The EU report finds that because Russia's distribution of passports to Abkhazians and Ossetians in the years prior to the war was illegal, its rationale of rescuing its "citizens" is invalid as they were not legally Russian. It also concludes that Moscow's claim of humanitarian intervention cannot be recognized "at all," in particular given the Kremlin's past opposition to the entire concept of humanitarian intervention.
The list goes on. The report finds Russian allegations of genocide founded in neither law nor evidence. In other words, they're not true. And whereas the report does acknowledge a Russian right to protect its peacekeepers, it finds that Moscow's response "cannot be regarded as even remotely commensurate with the threat to Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia." On the other hand, it faults Russia for failing to intervene against the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia and Abkhazia that took place during and after the war. Finally, it castigates Russia's recognition of the independence of the two breakaway territories as illegal, and as a dangerous erosion of the principles of international law.
In sum, the official EU inquiry found that none of Russia's various justifications for its invasion of Georgia hold water, and also faults Russia's behavior following the conflict, as Moscow continues to be in material breach of the EU-negotiated cease-fire agreement. While the report will be of great use to historians, its main implications should concern the present, because just as the war did not begin in August 2008, the conflict between Russia and Georgia is not over. While the war's military phase only lasted a few weeks, it continues in the diplomatic, political, and economic realms. Russia successfully evicted the international community from the conflict zones and expanded its military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, building large bases there. Its economic warfare against Georgia continues, as does its efforts at subversion inside the country. Most importantly, Russia's stated objective of regime change and the effective termination of Georgia's sovereignty goes on.
This conflict continues to destabilize a part of Europe to which the West has so far not paid sufficient attention. The EU, now engaged also on the ground in Georgia, must go beyond reluctantly accepting, as it has, that this conflict is a European problem. It needs to overcome its internal divisions and pursue a cohesive strategy toward Georgia—one that takes its basis in the country's European identity and aspirations, as well as its right to sovereignty and security. As for the White House, it would ignore at its own peril one of the EU report's final conclusions: "Notions such as privileged spheres of interest...are irreconcilable with international law. They are dangerous to international peace and stability. They should be rejected."
And doing so will take more than words and the scrapping of missile shields—it will take the type of serious engagement that neither the EU not the U.S. have so far been willing to pursue.
Mr. Svante E. Cornell is research director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University-Sais and director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, and co-editor of "The Guns of August 2008: Russia's War in Georgia" (M.E. Sharpe, 2009).source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471504574446582737784064.html
The EU's Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, told RFE/RL that he believed the document -- which he said he had not seen yet -- contains nothing "fundamentally" new.
Officials in Brussels are acutely aware of the risks of alienating either Moscow, a key energy supplier whose cooperation is desired in a host of areas, or Tbilisi, whose political standing took a beating over the 2008 conflict despite broad Western support for its aims of keeping Georgian territory intact.
The report, compiled by a group of international experts led by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, was presented to EU and other ambassadors in Brussels on September 30 and later released to the public.
Initial reaction from Russia's envoy was that the document laid the blame for the outbreak of fighting on Tbilisi, while Georgian officials countered that it concluded that Moscow had planned the conflict.
But the unveiling of the "Tagliavini report" could be regarded as something of an anticlimax.
EU ambassadors will be briefed on its contents over a low-key lunch. There will be no formal ceremony to mark the handing over of the more than 500-page document. There will also be no formal discussion of the report's contents among EU member states, nor will an official EU position be adopted relative to its conclusions.
"What I can say is that I believe that now, more than a year after the war and after quite a few studies and reports have been published on the topic, I think that most of the events are fairly well known,” Semneby said. “I expect that this study, which is quite a thorough one, is probably going to reveal a few new facts, but I would be surprised if it would reveal anything that would fundamentally change our picture of the course of events."
Privately, EU officials have told RFE/RL the report will not be a "one-way street," blaming Georgia alone, as some early leaks have suggested. Instead, it will apportion blame relatively equally on Georgia and Russia.
The report is expected to roughly follow the established Western take on the events, according to which Georgia overreacted to severe and long-standing Russian provocations. While the Georgian military may have fired the first shots, it was Russia's meddling in the irredentist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which had set in motion the chain of events leading up to the war.
Georgian officials appear to be resigned to being given some of the blame. But one senior official told RFE/RL that Tbilisi believes it has "the law on its side." The official also alluded to Russia's long history of involvement in Georgian affairs, noting that "the war did not start on August 7, 2008."
To date, only Nicaragua and Venezuela have joined Russia in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia's early charges of a Georgian-conducted genocide in South Ossetia and other war crimes have not been substantiated.
Georgia now expects a long cold war of attrition with Russia. The official quoted above said the report's release is likely to be followed by a few days of mutual recriminations between Georgia and Russia, which will then eventually subside.
This is broadly in line with EU expectations.
Semneby said the bloc will leave interpreting the report to others.
"It's not, obviously, the ultimate truth about the war, but rather should be seen as a contribution to highlighting the facts around what is a very complex series of events that started actually...long before the war in August of last year," Semneby said.
The EU, which helped to end the war in August 2008, is now a key mediator in the Geneva talks.
The bloc's interests, however, are broader. It needs a working relationship with Russia. Moscow is seen as a strategic partner in the EU. Its energy deliveries are vital for the bloc, as is cooperation with Moscow in many other fields.
Georgia, on the other hand, remains a key part of the EU's Eastern Partnership outreach program. Although Tbilisi's standing in EU eyes has slipped since the war -- a fact acknowledged by Georgian officials, too -- the bloc remains committed to helping the country.
The EU's monitoring mission (EUMM) along the demarcation lines between Georgia proper and Abkhazia and South Ossetia now represents the only involvement of the international community in the conflict zone. Earlier this year, Russia was instrumental in securing the ejection of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from South Ossetia, and that of a UN mission from Abkhazia.
Meanwhile Georgian hopes of getting the United States to join the EUMM have been dashed. Objections from EU member states such as France, fearing complications in the EU-Russia relationship, have caused the idea to be shelved.
Adjusting to new realities, Georgia has toned down its expectations of the EU accordingly. Economic assistance is now foremost on the minds of Georgian officials.
On the political front, Tbilisi knows that hanging on to the status quo will be difficult enough, with the EU increasingly preoccupied with its own constitutional future, expected to be settled in the remaining months of the year. Then, Spain will take over the rotating half-yearly EU presidency from Sweden, to be followed by Belgium. Neither country is as interested in the eastern neighborhood as Sweden, so Tbilisi will face an uphill struggle to retain a presence on EU radar.
Correspondingly, Georgian officials can now only hope for signals of continued EU support.
Kahtleen Moore contributed to this report
Sep 25, 2009
Mikheil Saakashsvili, President of Georgia at 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, NY, 24.09.2009
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to address the 64th annual general debate
of the United Nations.
Each year we gather here to confront our common challenges and to express our
vision for the world we share — the world for which we are common stewards.
And each year we promise to do more - to do better - to live up to and defend the
principles enshrined in the UN Charter.
We meet this year on the 20th anniversary of one of the most successful triumphs of
Twenty years have passed since Europe - and the rest of the world - was liberated
from one of the cruelest episodes in modern history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought to an end an artificial line that separated nations,
divided families, strangled freedom, and imprisoned millions.
Remarkably, that formidable wall crumbled without a single shot being fired.
It yielded to the will of those millions who yearned for liberty and it yielded to the
determination of a united West.
Twenty years ago, a universally feared military force was defeated by the force of a
universal truth - the call for freedom and the simple desire to live a dignified life.
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When the Berlin Wall was dismantled 20 years ago, it did more than free the captive
nations of the Warsaw Pact.
It unleashed the hopes, dreams, aspirations and talents of millions of citizens living
under the tyranny of the Soviet Union - including my own nation's people.
Today, these citizens make up more than a dozen diverse nations, linked together by
common desires and ambitions to live in a world free from spheres of influence - free
from external control - able to choose their own destiny.
Today, as we look back at this historic chapter, and the impact it has had on our
world, we can rightly be proud of what was achieved - of the tremendous progress
made, and the prosperity that a lasting peace has brought.
But if we are to evaluate the past honestly, we must admit our present remains
For there is a real danger that rather than building on this great chapter of idealism
and progress, states and leaders will allow a return of the dull complacency and
cynical power politics that led to so many of the worst moments of the past 100 years.
And the moment is bittersweet because, regrettably, not everyone drew the same
lessons of hope and inspiration when that Wall came down.
Indeed, 20 years ago, when freedom's spirit swept that wall away, few imagined the
repression and threats it represented would so soon re-appear, and that the hopes
unleashed in 1989 would so quickly founder.
Yet today, a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace remains a goal still to be
achieved - a project not yet accomplished, and a challenge, unfortunately, unmet.
Today, I stand before you as the democratically elected leader of a proud and
But, tragically, Georgia today, like Germany a generation ago, is a nation with a deep
wound running through her.
As Vaclav Havel and others leading voices of Europe's conscience declared earlier
this week, Europe is today divided by a new wall, built by an outside force - a wall
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that runs through the middle of Georgia.
A wall that cuts off one fifth of our territory - a wall that once again divides Europe
from itself, creating new lines of repression and fear: artificial dividing lines inside
the internationally recognized borders of a European nation.
It may be unpopular - but I am obliged to speak the truth.
And the truth is that this wall's existence mocks the progress we seemed to have made
since that bright shining day in Berlin 20 years ago.
This new wall tells us that once again the rule of force has trumped the rule of lawand
the rule of reason.
I see no irony - only tragedy - in the fact that this wall is being built by the very
people whose ideas were collectively and decisively defeated and rejected just 20
I take no comfort that those who thought the Wall's destruction was the single
greatest tragedy of the 20th Century now lead these deplorable efforts.
One year ago, my country was invaded: tanks, war planes, warships, bombs and
state-directed cyber hackers descended upon our towns, villages, cities, infrastructure,
Hundreds of our people were killed or wounded. Tens of thousands of innocent
civilians were forced to flee in the face of ethnic cleansing that independent human
rights organizations have documented.
Today, these acts of brutality have gone unaddressed- in direct contravention of
international law, the norms of this institution and internationally signed agreements
designed to reverse these wrongs.
These are the facts that confront us as we gather here today. And these facts do have a
name: armed aggression, ethnic cleansing, mass violations of human rights, and
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Ladies and gentlemen, those who unleashed war in my region and led ethnic
cleansing campaigns in my country - said yesterday in this very hall - that they had to
do it to, "implement the principle of indivisibility of security" - in order to, "step over
the legacy of the past era".
The only thing that they stepped over was our sovereign border.
They said they had to do it... As their predecessors had to invade Poland in 1939,
Finland in 1940, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Afghanistan in 1979.
And they had to erase a capital of 400,000 inhabitants - Grozny, to destroy and
exterminate the proud Chechen nation and kill tens of thousands of innocent women
Recent history is indeed a powerful guide to understanding what kind of actions these
leaders undertake in order to bring what they call "security and stability" to my
But I want to say clearly today that the people of Georgia cannot and will not accept a
new dividing line in our country. That is an unchangeable commitment.
And the return of a wall across Europe is not just a matter for Georgia. Indeed, the
very values of this institution remain at threat.
The protection of human rights, respect for the dignity and equality of all persons, the
inadmissibility of ethnic cleansing, and recognition of the inviolability of sovereign
borders - all are values that form the bedrock of this institution.
We certainly did not choose this course of action, but it is up to us to recognize and
reverse its illegality.
As a community of responsible nations, it is our collective responsibility to uphold
international law and insist that borders cannot and will not be changed through the
It is up to us to tear down this new wall peacefully — with the power of our ideas and
the strength of our convictions.
I want the world to understand clearly how we view this new wall and our strategy for
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tearing it down.
To start, let me state outright: we do not expect it to disappear overnight. We
understand the need for patience. But the history of the Berlin Wall teaches us that
patience must not be passive.
The Berlin Wall only fell because passionate, disciplined, energetic partisans of
freedom, both behind and outside that wall, worked with focus, discipline, and
courage, to remind the world continually of the illegitimacy and illegality of that wall,
and to take actions to hasten its demise.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank those member nations at the UN for their
vote recognizing the right of return for all who have been displaced- for all the
victims of ethnic cleansing.
I would like to thank all those nations across the globe that resisted illegality and
pressure by standing firm in their non-recognition of those territories of Georgia now
occupied by a foreign force.
I want to thank all those nations who have been so generous in pledging and
providing vital economic support that has proved invaluable in helping to build
shelters and rebuild the dreams of the invasion's refugees and IDPs.
On behalf of all my fellow citizens, I wish to thank you for your generosity, especially
at a time of such extreme hardship around the world.
Beyond the comfort provided by your material support, I want to thank all of
Georgia's friends who have defended not only our sovereignty, but our right to forge
our own path in the world, to choose our own alliances, and to reject the 19th-century
notion of spheres of influence, which led to so much warfare, repression, and hardship
in the world's history.
I want to thank those nations and leaders of the European Union who today have
committed their monitors to Georgia for the promotion of peace.
The Georgian people are also grateful to US President Obama, for his unyielding
words of support for our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to Vice President
Biden, for visiting Georgia this summer and underscoring America's commitment to
our democracy and our right to choose our own future.
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And in particular, I want to thank the UN for its more than 16 years of contributions
to peace on the ground in Georgia through its presence in our country- a presence
recently and abruptly halted by the unilateral actions of one single member state.
Our future depends on us.
And so today I also want to report to you on the progress Georgia is making, through
our own efforts, in the year since we suffered Europe's first invasion in the post-Cold
One year after losing hundreds of our sons and daughters and after seeing tens of
thousands of our people displaced, the Georgian people have regrouped and made real
progress down the path of peace, freedom, and individual liberty.
And I would like to pay tribute to their courage.
Just this summer, in a refugee camp outside Tbilisi, I saw young children
demonstrating their unstoppable will to have a normal and free life, seizing the
opportunity to learn how to compete in the modern age, using new computers,
mastering English and advancing their pursuit of knowledge despite the odds.
These children are the future of my country. These children symbolize, ladies and
gentlemen, the path Georgia took after the invasion.
We are following through on the promises I made at this podium last year to
strengthen our democracy, foster pluralism, and expand individual liberties.
Already, we have set reforms in motion, which within the next year will advance the
progress of the Rose Revolution and irreversibly deepen our identity as the freest state
in our region.
Already, we permitted nearly three months of opposition protests to proceed
unhindered, even though they closed down the main street of our capital, reflecting
our deep commitment to pluralism and our respect for dissent and freedom of speech.
Already, we have given opposition-controlled broadcast stations license to transmit
across the nation.
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Already, we have brought opposition parties into meetings of our national security
council, to ensure our security policies reflect the unified will of the nation, beyond
faction, beyond party.
Already, we have committed to the direct election of mayors next year and begun the
development of new electoral rules, including a consensus chair of our electoral
commission, to ensure the greatest possible legitimacy of our democratic processes.
In the next few months we will go even further.
We will adopt new laws to penalize any government official or other outside party
from interfering with our judges.
And we will adopt constitutional reforms to transfer power from the presidency to a
We do this because a vibrant democracy is one of the best ways to topple this new
We are also doing all we can to rebuild our economy.
The Georgian people are skilled and hard-working, but they are bearing the double
punishment of a global economic downturn and the economic consequences of last
Our biggest imperative at home is to create more employment, and we are doing all
we can to pursue that goal, every day.
We are heartened that just this month the World Bank named Georgia as the eleventh
most attractive country in the world for doing business when only a few years ago we
were 11 2<-2\/^ nd. And we will continue to take steps to strengthen our economy and create more employment. We are resolutely committed to our vision of a sovereign and unified Georgia. 7 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Together, with all of Georgia's diverse ethnic groups and religions we will prevail over this illegal occupation and reverse this ethnic cleansing. Abkhazia is the birthplace of our culture and civilization. Starting from Jason and the Argonauts, Abkhazia has been the most valuable and vibrant part of our journey through history. Abkhazia today has been emptied of more than Ws of its population. Gardens and hotels, theaters and restaurants have been replaced by military bases and graveyards. It will take time, but Abkhazia will once again be what it was: the most wonderful part of Georgia. Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, I came here today to deliver this simple message: Georgia is winning the peace. And here is how you can measure our commitment. Did we crumble in the face of a brutal invasion? No. Did we crack down in the face of dissent? No. Did we reduce freedom in the face of recession? No. Even in the face of adversity, we continue to contribute to the common goals established by our friends and by the international community at large. In the battle against climate change, I am proud to say that Georgia is at the vanguard, producing 85 percent of our electricity from green and renewable sources. We are, meanwhile, on the frontlines of confronting terrorism around the world with our allies, including in Afghanistan where our troops will serve side by side with others from around the world. We are winning the peace because every day, nations from our region become more and more independent from our common imperial legacy. Every day, regional states reject more and more the tremendous pressure coming from 8 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY our common past. Every day, the idea that we can resist revanchist tendencies is growing and every day an arc of independent nations - from Belarus to Moldova - Uzbekistan to Mongolia - is telling the world that spheres of influence is a thing of the past. Georgia, my friends - is not only a country; the new wall that cuts across our territory has transformed Georgia to an idea and a test. An idea of freedom and independence, and a test for the world. A test the world must not fail. If the test is successful, then you will be amazed how quickly this region will develop its tremendous potential. An active, patient victory over this new wall is a crucial step in the effort to build energy security for free nations, and to build a united front against lawlessness and terrorism. It's a sphere where all cultures, influences, religions, and traditions meet, providing an antidote to the risk of a clash of civilizations. Yesterday, President Obama said clearly that new walls should not divide us, that the future belongs to those who build and not to those who destroy, that cooperation and values have to prevail against division and cynicism. I want today to stress how much we share this vision, how much this vision is vital for my country and my region and beyond. Twenty years ago, the velvet revolutions opened a new era in international relations and a new journey began towards a free and cooperative world. I am confident we will prevail on that journey, but only if we are not complacent, only if we are not passive. And if we stand by and defend our deeply held values. After all, the clarion voice of those velvet revolutions two decades ago - the voice of Vaclav Havel - offered us a solemn reminder only this week about the dangers we have yet to overcome. CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Speaking of the new wall that now divides Georgia, he wrote, together with other prominent Europeans - and I quote: "The failure of Western democracies to respond to the dismemberment of a friendly nation, albeit a small one, can have very serious global consequences. The European Union was built against the temptation of Munich and the iron curtain. It would be utterly disastrous if we were to appear in any way to condone the kind of practices that plunged our continent into war and division for most of the last century. At stake is nothing less than the fate of the project to which we continue to dedicate our lives: the peaceful and democratic reunification of the European continent." We must not fail to hear Vaclav Havel's call and President Obama's call - and the call of one my personal heroes from Russia, Anna Politkovskaya, so brutally silenced. Their calls echo across two decades of progress - a progress that has sparked great hopes, but that remains fragile. Today and together we must provide answers. Today and together we must show leadership and vision. Today and together we must demonstrate uncommon resolve. And most of all, today and together we must provide an example that the power of our values and ideals - will finally unleash the tremendous human potential within us all. THANK YOU
Aug 19, 2009
Russia vs. symbols
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 18:13
Russian Ministry of Justice has adopted the ruling of the Supreme Court, according to which the things with crosses will be considered as the attributes of extremism.
After the decision was brought into force, the flags of over 15 states in Russia are now considered as the symbols of extremism. Along with Georgia, flags of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zeeland, Switzerland, Dominican Republic and Jamaica will be also considered as the attributes of extremism.
Georgian heraldry experts downplay the attack of the Russian authorities on symbols. Even the Russian experts slam Russian Justice Ministry for inadequate decision.
Флаг с крестом признан в России экстремистским
В конце минувшей недели Минюст включил в список экстремистских материалов флаг с крестом. Поскольку никакие другие атрибуты флага не названы, в России отныне запрещены все флаги, на которых изображен крест, в том числе Андреевский флаг ВМФ и флаги целого ряда зарубежных стран.
Эксперты опасаются произвола со стороны правоохранителей. Между тем, крест присутствует на государственных флагах целого ряда стран, в том числе Финляндии, Швеции, Норвегии, Дании, Исландии, Великобритании, Австралии, Новой Зеландии, Швейцарии, Грузии, Доминиканской Республики и Ямайки.
Флаг с красным крестом общепринят у медиков и является эмблемой международной организации Красный Крест. А флаг с косым синим крестом или Андреевский флаг - это официальный флаг Военно-морского флота России. Кресты изображены на флагах трех российских регионов - Удмуртии, Марий Эл и Белгородской области.
Есть кресты и на православных хоругвях, которые также можно счесть флагами. Следовательно, их производство, распространение и хранение в больших количествах тоже подпадает под запрет.
Флаг с крестом – под запретом?
В минувшую пятницу Минюст в очередной раз пополнил федеральный список экстремистских материалов (в нем уже 414 пунктов), включив туда среди прочего и флаг с крестом со ссылкой на судебное постановление Орджоникидзевского райсуда Уфы от 8 декабря 2008 года.
Материалы из списка запрещено производить, распространять и хранить в целях распространения. Для граждан такие действия грозят арестом на 15 суток, для организаций – штрафом в 100 тыс. рублей с приостановлением деятельности на 90 дней. Вывешивать на доме флаг с крестом или идти с ним на демонстрацию можно – в России наказуема публичная демонстрация только нацистской символики.
Никакие другие атрибуты флага в списке Минюста не указаны. Фраза «флаг с крестом» стоит через запятую между фразами «плакат с изображением представителей ку-клукс-клана» и «агитационный плакат, на котором изображена «азиатская саранча». Такая формулировка означает, что под запрет попадают любые флаги, на которых изображен крест.
Между тем крест присутствует на государственных флагах целого ряда стран, в том числе Финляндии, Швеции, Норвегии, Дании, Исландии, Великобритании, Австралии, Новой Зеландии, Швейцарии, Грузии, Доминиканской Республики и Ямайки. Флаг с красным крестом общепринят у медиков и является эмблемой международной организации Красный Крест. А флаг с косым синим крестом или Андреевский флаг – это официальный флаг Военно-морского флота России. Кресты изображены на флагах трех российских регионов – Удмуртии, Марий Эл и Белгородской области.
Есть кресты и на православных хоругвях, которые также можно счесть флагами. Следовательно, их производство, распространение и хранение в больших количествах тоже подпадает под запрет.
Скорее всего, в постановлении суда имелась в виду нацистская символика, говорит главный герольдмейстер России Георгий Вилинбахов: «Подобные постановления должны очень четко конкретизировать, о чем идет речь». В нынешнем виде постановление можно толковать расширительно, что создает законодательную базу для произвола, подтверждает адвокат Дмитрий Аграновский.
Начальник пресс-центра МВД РФ Олег Ельников сообщил, что за государственные флаги никого наказывать не будут, но от дальнейших комментариев отказался.
Гордый Андреевский флаг
Андреевский флаг – кормовой флаг кораблей Российского флота. Представляет собой белое полотнище с изображением голубого диагонального креста Святого Андрея Первозванного. Апостол Андрей, родной брат апостола Петра, считается покровителем христианства на Руси. Согласно преданию, апостол был по приказу римлян распят на косом кресте.
Флаг был учрежден в качестве официального флага военного флота 10 декабря 1699 года. Инициатива введения Андреевского флага в круг российских геральдических символов принадлежит Петру I: «Флаг белый, через который синий крест св. Андрея того ради, что от сего апостола приняла Россия святое крещение».
В таком виде Андреевский флаг осенял русские военные корабли до ноября 1917 года. Начиная с петровского времени, неукоснительным оставался смысл уставного положения: «Все корабли российские не должны ни перед кем спускать флага».
D 1991 году в качестве основного Военно-морского флага указом Президента РФ был введен исторический российский Андреевский флаг.
Aug 7, 2009
Jul 7, 2009
Obama said after holding talks with Russia's Dmitry Medvedev that Moscow would contribute greatly to the U.S.-led coalition's war in Afghanistan.
But he flagged the remaining disagreement over Georgia, saying Washington would stand by the Caucasus nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
(Reporting by Oleg Shchedrov; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)source: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE56541C20090706
Jun 25, 2009
24 June 2009
By Yulia Latynina
Peacekeepers deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must leave Georgia by June 30 after Russia vetoed on June 15 all attempts to keep their mission in force. That is about the same time General Nikolai Makarov, commander of Russia's forces in the war with Georgia in August and the commander of the "Caucasus 2009" military exercises planned for June 29 to July 6, announced that "Georgia is brandishing its weapons and is preparing to solve its territorial problems in any way it sees fit."
This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?
The Akhalgori district is key to any future war in Georgia. In violation of all agreements signed by Moscow at the conclusion of the August war, Russia never withdrew its troops from Akhalgori -- territory that was previously under Georgian control and located only 30 kilometers from Tbilisi. If Russia starts a war, Akhalgori would be the obvious launching area. If, however, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili initiates the war, Akhalgori would be one of his first military targets.
Only a few journalists have managed to visit Akhalgori, but those who succeeded have painted a somber picture of conditions there. Marauding and killing by South Ossetian "civil guardsmen" have become part of everyday life. Alkhalgori has been transformed into a military base: It was from Akhalgori, by the way, that Russian Sergeant Alexander Glukhov deserted into Georgian territory in January.
Is Akhalgori just a big mismanagement problem? Perhaps, but if Russia intends to strike Tbilisi from Akhalgori it naturally does not need any witnesses hanging around -- above all journalists and international observers. One way is to control events is to deny journalists access and veto motions to continue OSCE peacekeeping operations. Another way is to get rid of other witnesses by using the South Ossetian "civil guardsmen" as a blunt instrument to remove them.
Russia's foreign policy did not become more peaceful following the war with Georgia. To the contrary, it fought a "gas war" with Ukraine in January and has recently fought a "milk war" with Belarus. If before the war with Georgia, Russia's position toward the rest of the world was "They don't love us." Now it is "They attacked us."
Of course, Russia would be crazy to start a new war with Georgia now. Unfortunately, it was just such madness that prompted its "gas war" with Ukraine.
Throughout most of this year, the Kremlin has tried to convince the world that Georgia started the war. Clearly, the more innocent the Kremlin considers itself to be, the more likely it will feel justified in starting a second war with Georgia to settle scores.
In private talks, OSCE officials ask not to take advantage of the fact that its peacekeepers will not be around to arbitrate -- or prevent -- new conflicts in Georgia. But by leaving, they are making another Russian-Georgian war more likely