Baltics back Georgian integrity

  • 2008-04-21
  • Mike Collier in association with BNS

RIGA -- Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins gave explicit backing to his Georgian counterpart in a telephone conversation regarding the country's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, April 18, according to a statement issued by the Latvian Foreign Ministry.

Speaking to Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze, Riekstins reportedly "expressed Latvia's firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia. Latvia is of the opinion that the instruction by the President of Russia to the Government is contrary to Russia's position in the UN Security Council, where it voted for Resolution 1808 of 15 April 2008, which stands for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Support for one of the conflicting sides cannot encourage the settlement of these conflicts. Latvia calls on the Russian Federation to refrain from the implementation of the decision and not to take practical action, which would encourage the legitimisation of the separatist regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

The "instruction" refers to is outgoing Russian president Vladimir Putin's declaration of increased financial aid and political backing for the breakaway regions, seen by many observers as a blatant attempt to foment  instability in  Georgia, with which Russia has a fractious relationship.

"Latvia is carefully monitoring the progress of events relating to Georgia's separatist regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia and calls on all sides involved to avoid taking any steps and rhetoric, which could endanger a peaceful resolution of these conflicts," the Foreign Ministry statement concludes.

Meanwhile, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet sounded an even stronger warning about Russia's actions in Georgia.

"Russia, a country that among other things is a member of the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary-General on Georgia,should support the peace process, not obstruct it," Paet toldBNS.

The foreign minister mentioned the Georgian government's initiative of March 28 that offers extensiveautonomy to Abkhazia and expressed the conviction that itcould be a good beginning for both the parties to hold on toand find a peaceful solution to the situation.

Paet appealed to Russia to suspend implementation of the presidential decree, a call that was echoed by Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus in Vilnius.Russian conduct is incompatible with the international law or the status ofRussia as a permanent member of the United Nation (UN) Security Council, Adamkus believes.