Russia recognizes independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia 2008-08-26 19:26:59   Print

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signed decrees on the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway regions of Georgia.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attend a meeting in Russia's Defence Ministry headquarters in Moscow, in this Aug.  11, 2008 file photo. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
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    MOSCOW, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signed decrees recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two breakaway regions of neighboring Georgia.

    The move is in keeping with fundamental international laws and shows Russian support to the expression of "free will" by the Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples, Medvedev said in a televised address, according to Itar-Tass news agency.

    "I have signed decrees on the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by the Russian Federation...That wasnot an easy choice to make, but it is the sole chance of saving people's lives," he said.

    The recent attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia has killed all hopes for the peaceful coexistence of Ossetians, Abkhazians and Georgians in one state, Medvedev said, adding that the time has come for the peoples of the two regions to decide their own fate.

    Medvedev called on other countries to follow Russia's example to recognize the independence of the two regions.

    In addition, he has ordered the Russian Foreign Ministry to establish diplomatic relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Kremlin said.

    He instructed the ministry to hold talks with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on drafting a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance.

    The president also ordered the Defense Ministry to ensure security in the separatist provinces as requested by their leaders, the Kremlin said.

    Soon after Medvedev's declaration, the respective leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, thanked Russia for recognizing their regions' independence.

    "This is an historic day for our people. I'm grateful to the Russian leadership and to the Russian people for this great step which was taken today to recognize Abkhazia's independence," the Interfax news agency quoted Bagapsh as saying.

    Kokoity made a similar statement, saying that: "Russia has saved us from genocide and has granted us the opportunity to develop and live on our own land."

    Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to the NATO, said recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a response to those who accused Russia of planning to annex the two regions.

    "The president's decision is a response to those political structures that said that Russia needs new land, that Russia is an occupier, that Russia is going to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Rogozin told a press conference in Moscow.

    Russian TV showed images of people with flags celebrating in the streets of the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi. Itar-Tass news agency said shops in South Ossetia were short of fireworks supplies as many rushed to buy them.

    Meanwhile, Georgia slammed the Russian decision, saying it was a challenge not only to Georgia but to the international community as it violated the UN Charter, Georgian news agency Caucasus Press reported.

    Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili said the move will "leave Russia isolated" internationally.

    Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke from central Georgian rule during wars in the early 1990s following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, but their self-proclaimed independence is not recognized internationally.

    Earlier this month, Georgia sent in troops to reclaim South Ossetia and Russia responded with a military offensive, driving Georgian forces out of the region and taking over parts of Georgian territory.

    Russia declared a halt to its military offensive on Aug. 12 after days of conflict in the region. Later, Moscow said it had fulfilled the promise made in a French-brokered peace plan to withdraw its troops from Georgia as of last Friday. 

Saakashvili criticizes Russian parliament's backing for breakaway regions

    TBILISI, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Russian lawmakers' call for their country's recognition of the independence of Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions is a "serious mistake", Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Monday.

    The decision will lead to "serious consequences" and will not benefit Russia, said Saakashvili, according to Georgian news agency Caucasus Press.

South Ossetia conflict casts shadow over Russia-West ties 

    MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The conflict that erupted overnight on Aug. 8 in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, not only caused great damage to ties between Russia and Georgia, but also cast a shadow over Russia's relations with the West.

    With some western nations criticizing Russia for failing to live up to its ceasefire agreement with Georgia, analysts remain skeptical about whether the lingering Russia-West rift would heal anytime soon.

Commander says exercises have no connection with Georgia conflict 

    BUCHAREST, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The military exercises scheduled for the time being in the Black Sea have no connection with the conflict in Georgia, stressed Juan Rodriguez, Commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group SNMG1) in Romania's Constanta on Monday.

    At a press conference aboard the Juan de Borbon frigate, part of the SNMG1 fleet, Rodriguez said the tactical exercises at sea will be carried out in accordance with a set schedule, and the aim of the operations is to promote interoperability among the navies of the NATO member states. 

Medvedev warns of termination of ties with NATO 

    MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that Russia could sever all ties with NATO if necessary, Russian news agencies reported Monday.

    "Cooperation is in the interests of NATO, not Russia," Medvedev said in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi during a meeting on Monday with Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to the alliance. 

Polish PM says Russia stiffening stance over Georgia tests EU policy 

    WARSAW, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Russia is stiffening its stand over Georgia and it will test the EU's eastern policy, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Monday.

    Commenting Monday's resolution by Russia's parliament calling on President Dimitri Medvedev to recognize Georgia's renegade provinces Abkhasia and Southern Osetia as independent states, Tusk said the Georgian crisis will be a test for the EU's eastern policy.  

Merkel concerned about Russian parliamentary appeal 

    STOCKHOLM, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said here on Monday she was very concerned about a appeal by Russia's parliament to urge President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions.

    The State Duma or lower house of the Russian parliament has approved Monday an appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two breakaway regions of neighboring Georgia. Earlier in the day, the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament, voted unanimously in favor of a similar appeal. 

Georgian parliament extends military regime in country 

    TBILISI, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Georgian parliament decided on Saturday to extend the military regime in the country while Russia said it would maintain peacekeeping observation posts around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway regions of Georgia.

    The parliament unanimously endorsed President Mikhail Saakashvili's proposal to extend the military regime in Georgia, which was originally declared for 15 days, until Sept. 8.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang
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