Swedish foreign minister says situation in Georgia "serious"

Georgia Materials 12 August 2008 12:23 (UTC +04:00)

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Tuesday said the situation in Georgia was "serious," the day after he arrived in the country, dpa reported.

Russia has with "ground forces and quite extensive airstrikes completely destroyed what there was of Georgian defences, radar stations, communications, army bases," Bildt told Swedish radio news in Tbilisi.

The attacks had also caused "major damage" to the Georgian economy, he added.

Bildt, who currently holds the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the 47-nation Council of Europe, flew Monday to Georgia with Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis.

The two were to assess the situation and have joined international efforts to end fighting between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Asked why Russia so far has appeared to reject all calls for a ceasefire, Bildt said it was likely due to the fact that Moscow had not achieved all its aims.

"Russia will sooner or later pay a rather high price for this," Bildt said.

"It changes the image of Russia, no doubt about that," Bildt added.

The Swedish foreign minister noted that there had been "quite a lot of talk about revenge, especially from (Russian) Prime Minister Putin about taking revenge against a little country that has sought a different course."

Russia joined the Council of Europe in 1996, and Georgia three years later. The Strasbourg-based organization was founded in 1949.