The same ethnic-separatist and post-Cold War tensions that had fueled the Abkhazian war were also contributing to ongoing conflict in the neighboring region of South Ossetia. In the early 1990s while fighting rebels in Abkhazia, the Georgian government was also trying to reign in secessionist revolts in the region of South Ossetia, a once autonomous region within the USSR. In 2008, the separatist conflict once again flared up in the region, and the Georgian government dispatched troops to bring the territory back under its control. The Georgian attack on August 7-8 resulted in the deaths of several Russian peacekeepers who were stationed in the region, and led Russia to launch strikes against Georgia. Heavy fighting, mostly in and around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, went on for five days before mediators from the European Union negotiated a peace settlement. Russia withdrew most of its forces, and secured greater autonomy from Georgian rule for large parts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
President Medvedev’s Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia, 8 August 2008
Russian Cabinet Comments on the Situation in South Ossetia, 9 August 2008
Declaration of Universal Mobilization by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, 9 August 2008
Statements by Saakashvili to International Press, 9 August 2008
Statements by Saakashvili to Press, 10 August 2008
Saakashvili address to the nation, 10 August 2008
Medvedev remarks to party leaders, 11 August 2008
Saakashvili’s speech with European leaders, 12 August 2008
Medvedev’s Comments in Joint Press Conference with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, 15 August 2008
Medvedev’s Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia, 18 August 2008
Saakashvili’s statement, 26 August 2008
President Medvedev’s Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia, 8 August 2008 Top
Source: Kremlin Archive. 2012. “Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia.” 8 August 2008. Retrieved from http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: As you know, Russia has maintained and continues to maintain a presence on Georgian territory on an absolutely lawful basis, carrying out its peacekeeping mission in accordance with the agreements concluded. We have always considered maintaining the peace to be our paramount task. Russia has historically been a guarantor for the security of the peoples of the Caucasus, and this remains true today.
Last night, Georgian troops committed what amounts to an act of aggression against Russian peacekeepers and the civilian population in South Ossetia. What took place is a gross violation of international law and of the mandates that the international community gave Russia as a partner in the peace process.
Georgia’s acts have caused loss of life, including among Russian peacekeepers. The situation reached the point where Georgian peacekeepers opened fire on the Russian peacekeepers with whom they are supposed to work together to carry out their mission of maintaining peace in this region. Civilians, women, children and old people, are dying today in South Ossetia, and the majority of them are citizens of the Russian Federation.
In accordance with the Constitution and the federal laws, as President of the Russian Federation it is my duty to protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they may be.
It is these circumstances that dictate the steps we will take now. We will not allow the deaths of our fellow citizens to go unpunished. The perpetrators will receive the punishment they deserve.
Russian Cabinet Comments on the Situation in South Ossetia, 9 August 2008 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. 2008. “Russian cabinet discusses ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in South Ossetia.” 9 August 2008. Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic 11 October 2012.
Text of “Segodnya” news report by Gazprom-owned Russian NTV on 9 August
[Presenter] Russia has received more than 30,000 refugees from South Ossetia over the last 36 hours. These figures were voiced at a meeting today in the Kremlin. Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev gathered members of the Russian government and told them to organize all the necessary aid both for refugees from South Ossetia and for those who remain in the republic.
[Medvedev] Because of the aggression unleashed by the Georgian side against the civilian population in South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers, many very complicated humanitarian problems have arisen which, in accordance with our mandate and simply out of the duty of our state, we need to address.
[Sergey Sobyanin, deputy prime minister, captioned] Practically all regions are ready to receive the victims [of the fighting]. In general, over the last few days, since 2-3 [August] more than 20,000 people have appealed to the [Federal] Migration Service. Over the last one-and-a-half days over 30,000 people have crossed the [Russian-Georgian] border. We are witnessing the situation of a humanitarian catastrophe.
[Konstantin Romodanovskiy, head of Federal Migration Service, captioned] We are keeping the situation under control. We are helping citizens despite the fact that many are arriving in Russia practically without any documents. The documents have been lost or burnt. Nevertheless, aid is being rendered by the migration service in this respect.
[Sergey Shoygu, Emergencies Minister, captioned] The situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is no water in Tskhinvali. Water intake works and cleaning facilities have been practically destroyed. By cleaning facilities I mean facilities for cleaning drinking water. Because of this, we are putting together cargo containing water cleaning installations. Given the lack of electricity, I believe we shall deliver generators to Vladikavkaz by 1600 [Moscow time, 1200 gmt] and to Tskhinvali by the end of the day. Moreover, the necessary amount of food and expendable materials from all bases of the [state] reserve was shipped at night. By 1600 [1200 gmt] today more then 100 t of various cargo will be in one place. This work is in progress.
[Tatyana Golikova, Health and Social Development Minister, captioned] Brigades of doctors are flying out today to work there. Moreover, we have sent out specialist experts who can render assistance in organizing aid, and also social aid.
[Medvedev] Our current task is to help overcome the consequences of this humanitarian catastrophe, in all the areas that you have just reported, naturally. Furthermore, those people that are responsible for this humanitarian catastrophe should bear responsibility for what they have brought about, including from the point of view of international law.
[Presenter] Straight after the meeting in the Kremlin, Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoygu together with some ministers held a telephone conference with representatives of North Ossetia. Humanitarian aid, the amount of necessary medication and the accommodation of victims was discussed at the meeting. It has just been reported that Shoygu is flying to Vladikavkaz by order of the president.
Declaration of Universal Mobilization by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, 9 August 2008 Top
Source: Republic of Georgia. 2012. “Declaration of Universal Mobilization by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.” The President of Georgia Mikheil Shaakasvili. http://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/
My dear fellow citizens,
I would like to brief you about the events that took place last night.
As you all know, we initiated military operations after separatist rebels in South Ossetia bombed Tamarasheni and other villages under our control. Most of the territory of South Ossetia has been liberated and is now under the control of Georgian law enforcement agencies.
Last night, Georgian law enforcement agencies liberated the Tsinagra region, the Znauri region, the village of Dmenisi (one of the biggest village in the region), Gormi, and Xetagurovo. They also have surrounded Tskhinvali, most of which has been liberated. As I speak, fighting is taking place in the city center.
The fighting was initiated by the separatist regime. Aircraft entered Georgian airspace from the territory of the Russian Federation and the attack was carried out from the North.
I also would like to address the international community.
A large-scale military aggression is taking place against Georgia. Over the past few minutes and hours, Russia has been bombing our territory and our urban areas. This can only be described as a classic international aggression.
I would like to address the Russian Federation.
Cease your bombardment of peaceful Georgian towns immediately.
Georgia did not seek confrontation, Georgia was not the aggressor, and Georgia will not give up its territories. Georgia will not renounce its freedom and sovereignty.
We have mobilized tens of thousands of reserve officers, and the mobilization process continues.
We all have to unite in this very important and difficult moment for our homeland, when our future and our freedom are under threat-when others are trying to hijack our future and our liberty. We all have to unite. We should not be afraid. We should not be afraid of their bombs, of their attacks, of their aggression-we are stronger than that.
This is our homeland. We are defending our country, our home, Georgia-and we are defending Georgia’s future.
We must unite. All of us, hundreds of thousands of Georgians here and abroad, should come together, unite, and fight to save Georgia. We are a freedom-loving people, and if our nation is united, no aggressor will be able to harm it.
We will not give up, and we will achieve victory. I call on everyone to mobilize. I declare, here and now, a universal mobilization of the nation and the Republic of Georgia. I hereby announce that reserve officers are called up-everyone must come to mobilization centres and fight to save our country.
We will prevail, because we are fighting for our homeland, our Georgia. If we stand together, there is no force that can defeat Georgia, defeat freedom, defeat a nation striving for freedom-no matter how many planes, tanks, and missiles they use against us.
Long live Georgia, and may God save her and all of us.
Statements by Saakashvili to International Press, 9 August 2008 Top
Source: Republic of Georgia. 2012. “President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili met foreign journalists.” The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. http://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/ Accessed
I have few announcements to make for international media. In fact, we were trying before we organize this live-air for me, we tried to get through different media channels and before of talking about the other things, I have to say that Russia have launched overall cyber attack over Georgian telecommunication system, and also on every line that goes from Georgia to the outside of world trying to block international communications
I have the following statement to make
Today Russia has launched a full scale military invasion of Georgia. Russian forces, including air, land and sea forces are messed against and attacking our sovereign nation. This war is not about South Ossetia, it has never been in first place. It is about destroying a small democratic nation inspiring to live in peace, freedom and liberty. Georgia is a nation of 4.6 million, Russia is 146 million and today they are trying to destroy my country. Georgia lost its independence in 1921, today it’s in similar circumstances. Today it will not be defeated no matter what. We appeal to our friends and allies to call to Russia to cease hostilities immediately. Georgia is a peace-loving nation, but today we have been attacked from North to South, East to West. I have to mention that Russian forces have been specifically targeting civilian quarters, they have specifically attacked and blew up the whole civilian quarter in the town of Gori, far away from the place where conflict area is and where is direct friction between forces are. They’ve attacked installations in the western part of Georgia, they’ve attacked residential quarters all around the country, they’ve attacked civilian hospitals and there are casualties. Most of casualties are among civilians. They’ve attacked our airports, they’ve attacked the proximities of pipe line, they’ve attacked bridges and they’ve attacked roads. Several hours ago Russian Black Sea fleet started to move towards and started invasion of Georgian sovereign territory in Abkhazia. Three years ago Russian troops and Russian heavy equipment started to storm upper Abkhazia – Kodori Gorge. I have to say, no Georgian movement, no central government step has been ever been taking place for the last period towards that territory. I also have to indicate, that Russian troops, Russian tanks that moved in, into South Ossetia on their way expelled the whole ethnically Georgian population of South Ossetia. This morning they’ve committed the ethnic cleansing in all areas they control in South Ossetia, they have expelled ethnic Georgians living there. Right now they are trying to set up the ethnic cleansing of ethnic Georgians from upper Abkhazia – Kodori Gorge.
I think what is at stake here is a post cold war order in Europe and in world. I detest the loss of human life on all sides; deeply regret every human being killed every instance of human suffering. My offer is to have immediate cease-fire, disengagement of forces, demilitarization of every area where there is a friction between troops and Georgia will be willing to take first steps providing that there is no international vacuum and there is serious international process. But it is an absolute essential thing. This unprovoked, long time ago planned invasion and aggression must stop. I’ve been warning all our partners and friends. I’ve been warning for western leaders for many months already that we had all the intelligence material, we have all the analysis that Russia was planning all out war against Georgia, but nobody wanted to listen to me. And here we are bearing the fruits of what’s going on on the ground. And certainly this was very well planned operation, certainly there have been messing troops at our borders from month to month calling it an exercise. Certainly they were menacing us, certainly they have been bombing us in the past, but something that is taking place now is unparallel since soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, since the soviet tanks moved into Prague in 1968 and into Budapest in 1956. It’s very much like what Stalin’s Soviet Union did against sovereign Finland in 1939. As I said we are willing to commit ourselves to immediate cease-fire, disengagement to first steps in that direction, to serious international process and Georgia is willing to have to do whatever is possible to stop the hostilities, to protect the civilian population. As of today I announced, I asked the parliament to announce the “state of war”. What does the state of war mean? It’s is not a Marshall Law, it is not just an emergency situation, we don’t have any limitation of press freedoms, we don’t have any limitation of political rights, we don’t have any limitations of movement of people. We are a vibrant democracy and no democratic freedom will be endangered. What state of war means is that parliament will be in permanent session as prime body for democracy in the country, what state of war means is that every state body will work in round clock regime, there is all-out mobilization of reservists and volunteers and there is certainly needs to secure vital processes in Georgia. Parliament is already in session and we are working very closely with Georgian and international media to give maximum cover of operations. For this moment as we speak Georgian self defense forces shut down 10 Russian planes, Russian bombers. I also have to indicate that yesterday Russian planes were escorting and intervening with the root of civilian airplanes flying over Georgian air space, which we regard as an act of extremely hostile and dangerous act of international criminal act, that they have been undertaken. I think what is taking place toward civilian targets mass terror on civilian population is clear act of murder and clear tough policy of terror, it has nothing to do even with the rules of war which we were never invaded of course. Certainly this is not work of any civilized leadership, any civilized politicians, any civilized nation. I think that world should wake up to this painful reality and do something about it, and I think Georgian people are mobilized without detect of any signs of panic, I think people are calm, people are resolute, this is democracy and democracy is willing to defend even small democracies committed to defend itself, and to defend its sovereign rights.
I also have to say that Georgia is a multi-ethnic democracy and we are committed to build genuine multi -ethnic society, security rights for all ethnic groups and ethnic communities. This is the statement I wanted to make today. We are permanently monitoring the situation, I’ve just spoke to secretary C. Rice, president W. Bush is speaking to president Medvedev I will talk to president W. Bush later today, I spoke several times to different world leaders like Chancellor Merkel, foreign minister Steinmaier. We have been in touch with highest leadership in Europe, there is emergency meeting of European ministers convened in Brussels, for times to come and we are talking to all the regional leaders and we are talking to main players in world scene. Certainly I can’t communicate the message and I think they will do it themselves; people are extremely worried and preoccupied. Something that is taking place here is unparalleled, unheard of very, very unexpected for some people, unfortunately not for us, and even for us it’s beyond what we had expected. We are dealing with absolutely criminal and crazy acts of irresponsible and reckless decision makers which are on the ground producing dramatic and tragic consequences.
Thank you for your attention.
Statements by Saakashvili to Press, 10 August 2008 Top
Source: Republic of Georgia. 2012. “President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and ministry of foreign affairs of France bernard Kouchhner held a joint press conference.” The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. http://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/
I would like to specially welcome Mr. Bernard Kouchner, whose activity I’m watching with admiration from the times he had established the organization “Mdecins Sans Frontires” („Doctors Without Borders”).
We all well remember what was happening in Afghanistan. The current situation in Georgia is very similar, is analogous to what was happening in Budapest in 1955-56, in Prague in 1968 and we don’t have any desire to become Tbilisi in 2008 as continuation of this list.
At time we are speaking now, hundreds of Russian tanks entered Georgia through Abkhazia, the Russian warships reached Georgian ports. Right now there are 150 Russian tanks in 70 kilometers from the capital. All this has nothing common with South Ossetia issue, because Russia’s acts are performed in all directions and it clearly shows, that this operation is an implementation of a previously well-planned plan. That’s why it is necessary to find way out from this situation. I have several phone conversations with President Sarkozy and we are trying to find way out together. We have to preserve our country and peace. The President Sarkozy’s proposed model of negotiations and proposals of the minister Kouchner are absolutely acceptable for us. It’s obvious that this proposal should be acceptable for Russians as well. There is no any kind of obstacle from our side. Now, I think, the operative diplomacy – mission with which Mr. Bernard and Mr. Stubb, friend of our country who is well aware about the current situation, arrived – should bring results. After visit in Georgia, tomorrow they will leave for Moscow, where effort of this operative diplomacy will be continued. It is possible that after they will arrive in Georgia again. Main thing is to achieve the cease-fire. Practically we are entering the phase of humanitarian crisis. There are already tens of thousand of internally displaced persons from this region. Today I personally observed thousands of people, which were forced to run away from shooting and explosions. Of course, it is unprecedented brutality which must be stopped….
Journalist: What will you offer Russians?
Based on what we heard in Tbilisi, what we deem essential, namely the need of cease fire. To repeat, the war should not win time, but the opposite, we should take time away from war.
Saakashvili address to the nation, 10 August 2008 Top
Source: Republic of Georgia. 2012. “The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the Georgian population once again.” The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. http://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/
My dear fellow citizens!
Our country is facing days of decisive test!
It is very tough and important period for each of us.
First of all I want to express my condolences to those families, which members died in result of barbaros attacks during these days.
I, as the President of Georgia deeply regret this loss and cry together with my people.
It concerns peaceful population and citizens. It concerns our soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for our homeland.
My dear people!
At the same time I would like to express my gratitude for your heroism, for your incredible ability to stand firm and incredible patience, which each of you has shown the world during last few days.
I went to Zugdidi today, because the circumstances and I met many our populace there.
I saw how organized these people were. They were trying to keep calm maximally, how good the work of police, ambulance, municipal cervices work was on the roads. How right and organized were all of these.
During last years we all developed this state together.
I think, no one is uncertain that these battles are going not for Tskhinvali region only and not for Abkhazia only, but for Georgian statehood.
This is the moment to be or not to be for Georgia.
Of course our state must be solved by the participation of each of us, because our state belongs to us, to our children and grand children, it is the only future for them.
The price of the loss of freedom was remarkable once already.
We all have to take great care for not to repeat the same mistake.
No matter how hard it may be for me to say, that these attacks and bombardments are count on causing panic in you.
No how hard it is for us, we must not panic.
We must be like we were before – calm, organized and I am sure that everything will be fine.
Right now we are holding out negotiations.
I talked to President Sarkozy several times, he is talking to Russian leadership as well. I am in the permanent contacts with US, with it’s highest leadership – the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State. We are holding negotiations wit the Russian MFA on the deputy and minister’s level, we have intensive consultations with many other parties.
And the most important fact is that the attention of world is directed to us and everyone watches Georgia with great concentration.
Of course I would have been happier if our country got the world attention because of some good events, but I can not say that what’s happening right now will be left in history only.
It is incredible to see the endurance of each person and the aspiration of Georgian people towards freedom. It is so incredible to see people working so hard and fighting for it’s own future.
I would like to greet tens of thousands of people, who are gathered at different squares around the country.
They spontaneously arranged this manifestation, and I myself found out about it about half an hour ago.
This is a peaceful and well-organized action to show the world, that Georgia is peaceful, well-organized country and it is most willing to live in peace.
Once again I want to express my gratitude, I wish you patience and ask you to be patient and to stand firm.
I want to ensure you that Georgian government does everything to come out of this crisis as soon as it is possible.
We all knew that such an experience was awaiting us, because we chose statehood and the way to freedom.
We did everything to avoid confrontation in Tskhinvali region and you know it very well.
During these years not me, neither our government had a will of confrontation – in 2004 withdrawal of forces from this region was my initiative, to make sure confrontation at that moment would not continue.
We were trying to avoid this, but we were still found ourselves in this situation, because it concerns not only Tskhinvali region, it concerns to our future, our children and grandchildren.
This is why we have to solve our dear country and achieve this together for our children and grandchildren.
The fortune of our country will be decided during these days.
Medvedev remarks to party leaders, 11 August 2008 Top
Source: Kremlin Archive. 2012. “Opening Remarks at a meeting with the leaders of parties represented in the Russian Parliament.” 11 August 2008. Retrieved from http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Colleagues,
Today’s meeting with the leaders of the parliamentary factions is taking place in extraordinary circumstances and is extremely important for us all. On the night of August 7-8, Georgia committed an act of military aggression directed primarily against the people of South Ossetia and the Russian peacekeeping brigade deployed in this region. They used heavy artillery, tanks, aviation and the regular army to literally wipe Tskhinvali, its homes, hospitals and schools, from the face of the Earth. Several thousand people have become victims of the ensuing humanitarian disaster, and a large number of them are our fellow citizens.
In just a few hours all of the agreements that existed at that point were made null and void, not to mention that all the basic principles of international law have been violated: the wounded have had no chance to get treatment and refugees have not had the possibility of evacuation. This is the tragic result of the unspeakable aggressive act that Georgia, the Georgian authorities, has committed.
Right from the outset I want to thank all the parliamentary parties for taking a responsible approach and standing firm and united in support of the decisions the Russian leadership has taken in these difficult circumstances. I hope that you will be just as swift to help explain this position in the international organisations and defend it in your contacts with voters, with your supporters and with the foreign counterparts with whom you have ongoing contact.
I am also grateful to all the public and religious organisations and the youth organisations that have firmly condemned these acts of aggression and called for their immediate end. All the peoples of the multiethnic Caucasus region are watching developments with great concern. I call on you, given the possibilities you and your parties have, to be attentive to the need to maintain interethnic peace and tolerance in our society.
As I have said, my duty as President right from the outset was to protect our fellow citizens and not let the crimes committed against civilians and peacekeepers go unpunished. Russia wants to end this barbarity against the Ossetian people and against our citizens as soon as possible.
Our common task now is to deal with the humanitarian disaster that has taken place. I have already given instructions to the Government and the Government started taking steps to implement them straight away at today’s meeting. It is taking all necessary measures to normalise the situation. Personnel from the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Federal Migration Service, the Health Ministry and other state agencies are all involved in this work and all the required resources will be made available.
The Emergency Situations Ministry has already set up a field hospital near the border with South Ossetia. Medicines and first aid supplies have been sent to the region. More than 120 tons of civilian supplies have been delivered over these last few days.
At its meeting today, the Government Presidium decided to allocate 500 million roubles for priority aid to house refugees and give the wounded medical treatment. Ten billion roubles will be allocated for the first stage of reconstruction work in Tskhinvali and villages in South Ossetia. This money will be used to rebuild housing, the electricity supply, water treatment systems and the social infrastructure.
I would like to inform you separately that I have already decided to increase pay for the soldiers and officers taking part in the peacekeeping operations, for everyone currently in South Ossetia. The Government will draw up the corresponding resolutions.
More than 35,000 refugees have crossed the border over this latest period. The regions of the Southern Federal District are taking them in, of course, providing them with help and giving them accommodation in children’s holiday camps, schools and places of temporary shelter. I know that the whole country is collecting clothing, tents and food to send. It is important that public organisations, especially the political parties that have great influence and an extensive organisational network, join in this kind of humanitarian work.
I repeat now what I said several days ago, namely that Russia has historically always been the guarantor of the security of the peoples of the Caucasus. This is our mission and our duty. We have never been just passive observers in this region and never will be.
I have said that our tactic with regard to the Georgian leadership, which unleashed this aggression, is that of enforcing peace in accordance with the United Nations Charter. We consider this tactic absolutely effective and the only possible option. I remind you that history has seen numerous examples of attempts to appease aggressors. This was something the Western countries tried 70 years ago, and we know what tragedy this ended in. I am thinking above all of the lessons of the 1938 Munich Agreement.
We are doing everything within our power. Russia will not leave its fellow citizens in misfortune and will strive to normalise the situation.
Saakashvili’s speech with European leaders, 12 August 2008 Top
Source: Republic of Georgia. 2012. “The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili addressed Georgian population in front of the Parliament building together with the European leaders.” The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. http://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/
Today, the forces of occupants are near the gates of our capital.
They hoped that they would find Tbilisi broke, empty, destroyed and it would immediately surrender in front of their tanks, like it happened in different cities of Europe, like it happened in Chechnya, but this is you, my hundreds of thousand people who are resisting peacefully to the violence.
Together with us here today are six leaders of European countries and leaders of different governments.
I can say that this is the biggest worry which our enemies could see here.
On the behalf of EU, today arrived the Chairman of EU, President of France Nicolas Sarcozy. President of Ukraine Victor Yushenko, several Presidents of other European countries are here with us today.
They arrived here because we could say: today, the independence of these countries, the independence of Baltic countries is now deciding in Tbilisi, the issue of Poland’s freedom is deciding here in Tbilisi, the issue of Ukraine’s freedom is deciding here in Tbilisi today, together with the issue of freedom of Georgia today.
Today, the Presidency candidate John McCain stated: “Today every US citizen supports Georgia! Today we all are Georgians!”
My precious people!
Today we are holding negotiations together with the President of France Nicolas Sarcozy about cease-fire agreement.
Our guests are not only heads of leading countries, but also are members of European Parliament, different Parliament leaders came to Georgia, despite the fact that they were told – it was not safe to go to Georgia, but they are here standing with us.
Mr. President Valdas Adamkus! I am grateful for the action of your Foreign Minister, he said: “I will come to Tbilisi and stand where they are throwing bombs, just for them to know, that they are bombing a building where EU Foreign Minister is in”.
I want to thank you once again, for sending such people to our country.
The Foreign Minister of Ukraine made a statement on the behalf of my friend Viktor Yushenko.
This is the President of Estonia, I want to mention that hundreds of Estonian volunteers are coming to Georgia to support us.
This is the new Europe.
This is why Georgia is the real European country.
Today, their tanks were drawn in our country, not like in some indefinite Caucasian territory, but in free European country!
European country will always defend its rights, its dignity and the territorial integrity.
Medvedev’s Comments in Joint Press Conference with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, 15 August 2008 Top
Source: Kremlin Archive. 2012. “Joint Press Conference with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.” 15 August 2008. Retrieved from http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express my satisfaction with the meeting I just had with the Federal Chancellor. This was our fourth meeting. Of course we discussed the most current events and above all the tragic consequences of Georgia’s aggression against peacekeepers and civilians in South Ossetia.
You know that these acts have caused numerous victims and led to floods of refugees, large-scale damage and other serious consequences that can only be called a humanitarian disaster.
The Georgian leadership bears full responsibility for these illegal and ruthless actions. All of the many diplomatic efforts and talks in different formats, successful and unsuccessful, over these last 15 years were undone in a matter of hours by these acts of force. It gives the impression that Mr Saakashvili was simply sick and tired of diplomatic efforts and decided to solve all the problems and remove the obstacle of the Ossetians in one clean blow. This is why the operation was named accordingly “Free Ground”.
As you know, we responded with a number of measures to put an end to these actions. Russia remains the one force in this situation that can protect the civilian population and the Russian citizens living there. We took appropriate measures based on our right to self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Security has been restored and Russia’s peacekeepers remain the guarantors of this security in the Caucasus. Unfortunately, there are still a number of difficulties, but nonetheless, we and President of France Nicholas Sarkozy agreed on a set of basic principles for resolving the conflict and we think they provide a necessary and sufficient base for achieving a settlement. It now remains for Georgia to give its agreement to these principles, which must then be enforced under guarantees from Russia, the Council of Europe and the OSCE. I hope that this will all happen very soon. We are waiting for confirmation.
We also talked about the need for an objective evaluation by the international community of the tragic events that took place in South Ossetia. I stress that this must be an objective and not one-sided evaluation, not biased one way or the other.
But even more important now is to provide full support for the people affected by this humanitarian disaster. We need to ensure their security, give them medical assistance and rebuild the infrastructure that was destroyed. This is the task we need to concentrate on now.
I said yesterday and repeat now that peace in the region needs to be restored and guaranteed so that no one is tempted by such idiotic ideas again. I think that this is the Russian Federation’s primary task today.
Ms Merkel and I will continue our discussions of various issues of course, but the start of our talks was devoted naturally enough to these tragic events….
QUESTION: Looking beyond the horizon a little, among the six principles President Medvedev and President Sarkozy discussed was the principle of holding international discussions on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Ms Merkel just said that Georgia’s territorial integrity is an unshakeable principle as far as Berlin is concerned. The Russian authorities say that they will listen to the will of the Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples, who have already expressed their will in referendums. They expressed a desire to secede and form an independent state or join the Russian Federation.
My question for both leaders is how do you intend to reconcile these contradictory positions?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: There are contradictions that cannot be reconciled but that can be resolved. The whole reason they are contradictions is that the different positions often cannot be reconciled. If there was another way out of this situation it would probably be good to use it, with regard to the question of status I mean. Nobody is rejecting the principle of territorial integrity as one of the fundamental principles of international law. The question is one of a specific situation in a specific country. This is where the main difficulties start.
Unfortunately, after what has happened, the Ossetians and Abkhazians are unlikely to be able to live in one state with the Georgians, or some kind of titanic efforts would have to be made to resolve the conflict. But as I said at my meeting with Mr Sarkozy and also during my meeting yesterday with the leaders of the unrecognised territorial entities – South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and again during my meeting with Ms Merkel, as the guarantor of security in the Caucasus and in the region, Russia will accept the decision that reflects the clear will of these two Caucasian peoples and will use it as the guideline in its foreign policy and guarantee its enforcement in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in accordance with the peacekeeping mandate that we have. This is my view with regard to this situation….
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I would just like to add a couple of words.
We do not need to prove anything, but regarding the information you refer to I have simply not had time to pass it on yet. The photographs and the disks that contain all the information on the humanitarian problems, the destruction and the killings and wounding of civilians will be passed on.
QUESTION: My first question is for the Russian President.
Dmitry Anatolyevich, is Russia open to the possibility of peacekeepers or international forces from the West being deployed in the conflict zone?
I also have a question for the Federal Chancellor.
Ms Federal Chancellor, could you comment on the fact that when the Georgian President declared war, he did so with the European Union flag in the background.
Also, do you think there is any truth in the Georgian President’s statement that Russian troops destroyed Tskhinvali, remembering that Russian peacekeepers are stationed there and Russian citizens make up 80 percent of the town’s population?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: As far as peacekeepers are concerned, of course we are not opposed to having international peacekeepers there. It is not our position on the matter that is the issue. We are carrying out our share of the responsibilities for ensuring security in this very complex region. But the issue is that the Ossetians and Abkhazians themselves trust only the Russian peacekeepers because the events of the last 15 years have shown them that the Russian peacekeepers are the only force able to protect their interests and often their very lives. This is why they see the Russian troops as the only guarantee of their security, and this is something that also has to be taken into account.
I can give you an example from a recent and also very complicated case, that of Kosovo, when Kosovo rejected the participation of peacekeepers under UN mandate and asked for peacekeeper units formed on the basis of a special European Union mandate, and this request of theirs was met. I do not intend to go into an assessment of the situation there, but at the very least, people who face oppression, pressure or genocide have to feel comfortable with the force charged with bringing peace and tranquillity to country.
We will therefore discuss these questions of course, and we have already begun discussing the presence of international observers in one form or another, including through taking the additional security measures provided for in the fifth principle agreed on with the French President. This process will continue, but I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that in this situation the position of the people affected, the people who have been subjected to violence and aggression, remains paramount….
QUESTION: My question is for you, Mr President.
Most people in the West do not share Russia’s interpretation of this conflict. Does it worry you that this might lead to a long-term worsening in Russia’s relations with the USA and the European Union?
Ms Federal Chancellor, are you worried that this conflict and the way it has developed make a rethinking of Russian-German and even Russian-European relations necessary?
And a question for both leaders: did you discuss this subject?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: All we did was discuss the problems and consequences arising from this conflict.
As far as our interpretation goes, I can put everything in very clear terms. Of course we do not want any worsening in relations, either long term or short term. On the contrary, we want full-fledged development of relations with the European Union and with individual European countries, and also with the United States of America and other countries.
We live in a very fragile world and it is very clear that a global worsening in the international situation only plays into the hands of the most reactionary forces. You would have to be blind and unaware of what is going on not to understand this. Our position is that common sense must prevail and that our partners need to be very clear and aware about what has happened and what the consequences are, and not look for a single guilty party and all the more so not lay all the blame on the Russian Federation, but do everything possible to minimise the consequences of these tragic events.
For our part, we are ready to work with everyone openly and in goodwill, and we do not want to damage our relations with anyone. But at the same time, we will continue to carry out our peacekeeping mandate, and if anyone continues to attack our citizens and our peacekeepers, of course we will respond just as we responded on this occasion, and there should be no doubt about this….
My question for Dmitry Anatolyevich is what is your reaction to this? Russian military officials said today that this shows that the missile defence plans are directed against Russia and not against Iran. Do you share this point of view?
And I put the same question to the Federal Chancellor. Do you think that the signature of this agreement could change the situation?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: The Russian military officials are right. This decision demonstrates very clearly what we have been talking about of late, that the deployment of new missile defence systems in Europe is directed against the Russian Federation. The moment has been chosen accordingly. The stories about this all being to deter rogue states do not hold water.
What has taken place is clear and there is nothing I can comment on. This is sad for Europe, sad for everyone living on this densely populated continent, but it is not dramatic. We will continue to work on this matter and we are ready to discuss all of these issues with everyone involved. But the latest decision has done nothing to calm the situation, of course….
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I would just like to add a couple of words, not continuing on what the Federal Chancellor said but rather addressed to all the journalists present today.
You know that the tragedy that took place had us all glued to the TV screens and to other media sources and the Internet. I, like any ordinary person, also got some of my information from the media, as well as from the channels I have as President. The information picture that emerged leads me to ask three questions I would like you to reflect on.
First, who started the military operations in South Ossetia? Was it the peacekeepers, the Russian troops, or was it the Georgian army? If you look at what is shown on television the answer is not clear, but we know the answer to this question.
Second, did the international community want this aggression to have an outcome that would have meant the end to the existence of Ossetians in South Ossetia and Abkhazians in Abkhazia? Yes or no?
And third, do we consider what happened to be a humanitarian disaster, yes or no? Or is this solely the affair of the Ossetians themselves and the Russian Federation?
If we answer these questions for ourselves a lot will become much clearer.
Medvedev’s Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia, 18 August 2008 Top
Source: Kremlin Archive. 2012. “Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia with Veterans of the Battle of Kursk.” 18 August 2008. Retrieved from http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: You know that we have always been a peace-loving country. Practically at no time in its history did Russia, the Soviet Union, or modern Russia ever start hostilities. But even the most peace-loving country has to have combat-ready armed forces. You know the well-known saying that he who does not want to feed his own army will end up feeding someone else’s. We cannot allow this to happen.
We do not attack anyone. On the contrary, in a number of cases we are protecting the lives and dignity of people, our citizens and foreign citizens, through our presence as peacekeepers in different countries, including in states that emerged following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
I think it is absolutely clear to you that if someone thinks they can kill our citizens in impunity, kill our soldiers and officers who are peacekeepers, this is something we can never accept. Anyone who tries such a thing will meet with a crushing response. We have all the possibilities we need for this: economic, political and military. If anyone had such illusions a while ago, the time has now come to part with them.
We do not want any escalation in the international situation. We simply want respect, respect for our country, our people and our values. And we use our peacekeeping forces to ensure these decisions, to help our citizens and also those who are not Russian citizens but face a difficult situation.
There is no historical precedent for the aggression launched by the Georgian authorities 10 days ago. It goes beyond all understanding when a seemingly civilized country, whose armed forces have been modernized by another, highly developed country, uses its military machine against civilians (who, incidentally, it sometimes still considers its own citizens) and peacekeepers. We cannot allow this. I repeat that there can only be one answer to such actions.
Saakashvili’s statement, 26 August 2008 Top
Source: Republic of Georgia. 2012. “The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili’s statement.” The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. http://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/
My dear fellow citizens!
As you know Russia’s made a unilateral decision in respect of Georgia’s two regions.
This is the first attempt since Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, when a large state tried to at first force a neighboring state to kneel down and then tries to openly annex two regions, hence is trying to redraw borders in Europe.
After a failure to kneel down Georgia as a result of military aggression, ouster of the Georgian government, shattering Georgia’s fundamental values and Georgia’s disappearance from map as they planned it, as well as after the Georgian army, people and the entire international community showed huge resistance and heroism Russia decided to announce about this unimaginable illegality.
I want everyone to understand one thing: Russia’s today’s step is totally illegal, which will have no legal consequences either for Georgia or rest of the world.
Today, yesterday and in recent weeks Russia made unimaginable strategic mistakes and hit an unimaginable blow to its place in the international community and in the history of the contemporary world.
My entire presidency was dedicated to preventing staying alone in a situation in which we are now.
Russia’s all the actions so far were directed towards leaving Georgia without supporters and alone as it was the case in 1921 when the Bolshevik Red Army invaded Georgia. This plan of Russia has been totally thwarted.
Georgia was totally alone and with no supporters – almost 100% of the world population even did not know the name and location of this country – back in 1992-1993 when Georgia lost control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
But now Georgia has gained a huge international support and solidarity from all over the world and support towards our territorial integrity and we would have failed to gain such a huge support, even if we tried for 200 years, if not the mistakes made by Russia. Our intensive efforts of recent years brought results through mutual solidarity and through the mistakes made by Russia.
I want you to know that the Russia’s decision is being unanimously condemned by EU, the United States, Japan and all the civilized states in the world. All these states say that Georgia’s territorial integrity is totally untouchable.
Up to now we had to permanently speak out that these are not Georgia’s internal problems, that Russia is part of it, that Russia not a peace-loving country and that Russia is not an impartial ‘peacemaker.’ Unfortunately we were not able to confirm this to many, because they had much other job to do.
But now the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity and protection of Georgia’s independence is no longer a matter of only Georgia or a matter of Georgia-Russian relations; this is a matter of Russia and the rest of the civilized world.
Georgia’s independence and further strengthening is a matter between the Russian authorities – which are shattering laws – and the entire civilized world.
Georgia’s economic success, further development of our democracy is no longer a matter between us and Russia; this is a matter between Russia’s current illegal authorities and rest of the civilized world.
Georgia future is no longer the future of only Georgia; it is the future of freedom, democracy and of entire civilized mankind.
Russia tried to legalize control over at least two regions of Georgia, but instead it has received a huge and long-term problem and as never before it has shattered its position towards these conflicts and in fact downgraded its role to zero level in respect of Georgia’s internal affairs. So Russia has received something, which it was trying so hard to prevent for all these years.
Our goal today is to maintain our statehood, unity, calmness and heroic peaceful resistance, as well as our development.
Russia with this outrageous challenge to the international order, something that no one could dare to do with Europe after Stalin and Hitler, will receive a response from the Europe and free world, which remembers very well very bitter lessons of history.
We all should understand that our response to astonishingly unlawful and outrageous step is calmness, unity, development and further strengthening.
Our goal – and I have already appealed to all the concerned leaders – is accelerated integration into NATO in order to prevent reoccurrence of past mistakes and Georgia’s accelerated integration into European Union. We are part of the democratic world and the democratic world should embrace Georgia.
We already have first serious signals from our European and Trans-Atlantic partners. We have already received several very serious promises and concrete programs of Georgia’s economic revival and strengthening of Georgia’s security. Not only Georgia’s economy will be strong, but its security will also get stronger.
Our major goal today is to remain strong and united, civilized and European.
Georgia is not a large country, but Georgia is a country with extraordinary culture.
Our goal today is to help victims, to help those who have lost homes and businesses. We should not lose our hope, solidarity and unity.
Georgia will be independent, wealthy and united European country.
End of revival of the Russia’s imperialism has started today in Georgia.
Our goal is to let them understand that not only Georgia will kneel down, but it will be the end of everything what they are now talking about: restoration of Soviet Union, revival of empire.
Today and in recent weeks they have made very big mistake; they tried to break freedom-loving nation, but instead they met nonconformist and European-style, multi-ethnic Georgian society. In a clash between free and non-free forces it is non-free force that makes mistakes.
We will continue our struggle for Georgia’s development and for Georgia’s unity. Of course Georgia will be united. We will continue repressing the evil as we have been doing it in recent weeks.
In the recent weeks the entire world was looking at our country for the first time in our history. The entire world has seen us and it means that from now on we will not be along on our way towards the European choice; we will pass it together with our friends and of course we will peacefully unite Georgia.
My dear compatriots of all ethnicity!
The main thing that our ill-wisher has failed to see is scared Georgia; the main thing that they failed to see is Georgia left alone; the main thing that they have failed to see is Georgia running away and ruined Georgian state and its government… They have failed to see it and they won’t be able to see it in the future.
Georgia has materialized as the state; it will not be able to ever repeat 1921 in Georgia.
Georgia has survived and Georgia will get out of this ten-fold stronger; everyone should understand that Georgia will never again kneel-down and Georgia will accomplish all of its goals, including restoration of territorial integrity.
God bless Georgia and our families.