CIS Leaders’ Reactions Mixed To South Ossetia Fighting

Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey
Aug 9 2008

CIS Leaders’ Reactions Mixed To South Ossetia Fighting

Saturday , 09 August 2008

Leaders of former Soviet states have reacted to the escalating
violence in Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Some have called on Russian forces to withdraw, saying they support
Georgia’s right to control its sovereign territory.

Speaking from Beijing where he is attending the Olympic Games, Russian
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called on the countries of the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to close ranks and prevent
Georgia from taking further military action.

At a meeting with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, on
August 8, Putin said that "an appropriate assessment" of Georgia’s
action was needed from the CIS.

Nazarbaev criticized Georgia for not raising the alarm before
hostilities broke out.

"I think the Georgian leadership has not done the right thing here, by
not alerting anyone ahead of time, by not highlighting any rise in
tensions. I think, in any case, that there is no alternative to a
peaceful resolution of this issue," Nazarbaev said.

In Yerevan, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Gegham Gharibjanian
called for a peaceful resolution but did not take a side.

"Armenia is in the region where the conflict is at this moment and
there is no doubt it worries us. We really hope that a solution will
be found very quickly because at this moment it is true that no
solution has been found in the area of security, but I think the
problem must unequivocally be resolved by peaceful means,"
Gharibjanian said.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said its embassy in Tbilisi was prepared
to assist any Armenian citizen in Georgia who wished to return to
their home country.

In Belarus, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Vanshyna expressed deep
concern over the mounting civilian casualties but, like Armenia, did
not align her country with either the Russian-backed separatists or
Georgia.

Support For Georgia

Among those CIS countries speaking out in support of Georgia has been
Azerbaijan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Xazar Ibrahim told RFE/RL’s
Azerbaijani Service that Georgia has "every right" to restore its
territorial integrity to South Ossetia.

"Azerbaijan supports Georgia’s territorial integrity, and the South
Ossetia conflict should be solved only [within] this framework. At the
same time, Georgia has [every] right to restore its territorial
integrity, provided by the norms and principles of international law,
including the UN Charter. And therefore, all the steps taken by
Georgia in this direction are in accordance with international law,"
Ibrahim said.

Vitalia Pavlicenco, the leader of Moldova’s pro-Western, opposition
National Liberty Party, told RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service that his
country must support Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, not
Russia. He noted that Moldova is a member of GUAM, the regional
organization of ex-Soviet states that also includes Ukraine,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

Iurie Rosca, the vice president of the Moldovan parliament, said
Russia’s action seemed aimed at Georgia’s NATO aspirations.

"These provocations are aimed to destroy Georgia’s strategic plans to
become a full-fledged member of the North Atlantic alliance in a few
years," Rosca said.

Ukraine’s acting foreign minister, Vladimir Handogy, who was meeting
with the Russian charge d’affaires in Kyiv on August 8, also expressed
his country’s support of Georgia’s territorial integrity.

He said Ukraine is prepared to assist international efforts to bring
about a peaceful resolution, and he urged Russia to not become a party
to the conflict.

August 08, 2008
By RFE/RL

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