Georgian Foreign Minister: Conflict resolution must start with withdrawal of Russian occupation forces

Georgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres discussed the conflict in Georgia and the UN's role. Photo: GeorgiaUN/Twitter, 22 Feb 2017 - 12:24, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Foreign Minister Janelidze addressed a United Nations Security Council meeting yesterday where he said that the world has already seen Russian aggression in Georgia and then in Ukraine, and that it could possibly take place elsewhere if no action is to be taken.

He said that the conflict that started in the early 90s in Georgia reached its culmination in the 2008 Russian military intervention in the country and occupation of its territories, "as the international community failed to effectively respond to the early warning signs”.

He added that following the August war, Georgia lost even minimal, existing safeguards, as in 2009 both the UN Observer Mission and OSCE Missions to Georgia were unilaterally blocked by Russia, despite the increased need of their presence to monitor the situation on the ground.

"It is a vivid example that all protracted or dormant conflicts contain the threat of escalation at any time and require regular monitoring by the Security Council, instead of simply reacting to crises on an ad hoc basis”, Janelidze said.

He stated that while the UN, OSCE and EU have been engaged in international talks between Georgia and Russia as the co-moderators of the Geneva International Discussions for eight years now, more needs to be done to deliver real results.

"It requires more stewardship on behalf of the Co-Chairs and the Secretary-General in guiding and assessing the process based on the principles and norms of international law”, said Georgia’s top diplomat.

Janelidze stressed that Georgia has been long-committed to the constructive and peaceful policy of reconciliation and confidence building with Abkhaz and South Ossetian citizens.

"Georgia is committed to good neighborly relations and strives to have peace in the region. It was in this spirit that Georgia undertook the commitment of unilateral, non-use of force, which has never been reciprocated”, he said.

"Despite all this, the Russian Federation continues its policy which is aimed at the annexation of Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) through illegal agreements on integration signed with the de-facto authorities of the regions”, he added.

Janelidze noted that Georgia stands ready to settle the conflict with Russia by exclusively peaceful means and added that the withdrawal of Russia’s occupation forces from Georgia would be the most important stage toward a comprehensive settlement of the Russo-Georgian conflict.

You can watch the minister’s full speech here.