Russian Diplomat Summoned over Russian MFA Statement

Georgia Materials 16 February 2008 18:42 (UTC +04:00)

( Civil ) - Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned Russian ambassador in Tbilisi, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, on February 16 over the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement which said that recognition of Kosovo's independence would make Russia adjust its line toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"We requested [the Russian diplomat] about explanations over the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement," Davit Bakradze, the Georgia's foreign minister, told journalists. "We are ready to improve our ties with Russia, but not at the expense of our territorial integrity."

Sergey Lavrov, the Russia's foreign minister, met with leaders of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Moscow on February 15. Following that meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: "The declaration and recognition of Kosovo should definitely be taken into consideration in respect of the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia... This kind of step [recognition of Kosovo] envisages revision of internationally accepted norms and principles of international law, which can undermine existing rules and the ethics of international relations."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on February 14 that "supporting the unilateral recognition of Kosovo's independence is neither morally nor legally [correct]." He also warned that it would definitely set a precedent. "Here we have Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdnestria - they exist as independent states. We are always told that Kosovo is a unique case. These are all lies. It is not a unique case and everybody knows that very well. Everything is similar: ethnic conflict, crimes committed by both sides, de facto full independence," he said.

On the same day President Saakashvili warned against Kosovo precedent and said: "We will never let any powerful or weak side [country] infringe our territorial integrity or sovereignty," Saakashvili said. "We are at a decisive moment... Georgia has no land to lose. This is my sincere and friendly warning to everyone."

President Saakashvili is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart on the sideline of an informal summit of CIS leaders in Moscow on February 21.