National Press Club

Georgian ambassador criticizes Russia for continuing instability in region

August 14, 2009 | By Peter Hickman |

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A Russian embargo and provocations in "breakaway regions" of Abkhazia and South Ossestia are fueling continuing instability in Georgia, the Georgian ambassador to the U.S. Batu Kutelia told an audience of Russian diplomats and journalists at a Newsmaker event Tuesday, marking the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Georgia.

Russia is "zero for six" in complying with the terms of the August 12, 2008 ceasefire that ended the fighting between Moscow and the former Soviet republic, Kutelia said.

"As a result," he said, "today, there are more Russian troops and fewer international peacekeepers on Georgian territory (which) threatens continued instability for us and the region."

Russia, Kutelia charged, "is trying to legitimize the results of the war, the occupation" and what he called "ethnic cleansing."

Despite all this, he said, "Our response is simple but powerful: more democratic progress, reaffirming that Georgia has chosen a Western and democratic path, emphasized through a deepening and strengthened relationship with the United States."

That relationship, he added, "is strong and growing stronger." He said Georgia is grateful for American support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity as "expressed by President Obama in his visit to Moscow last month, and Vice President Biden's recent trip to Tbilisi," the Georgian capital.

Georgia, he said, recognizes that the best way forward, "with the U.S. and the European to press on with tangible steps that demonstrate our commitment to freedom, democracy and pluralism."

But, he added, "to fulfill our commitments, we require more international engagement and more diplomatic and political pressure on Russia to provide a favorable environment for the peaceful resolution of our problems---first and foremost being Russia's compliance with an agreement signed one year ago tomorrow."