Saakashvilii calls for international peacekeepers

Georgia Materials 23 August 2008 11:48 (UTC +04:00)

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili called for international peacekeepers in the conflict zone around the country's two breakaway provinces, Georgian media reported.

"The preservation of Georgia's territorial integrity is impossible without an internationalization of the peacekeeping troops," Saakashvili said at a meeting of the country's national security council late Friday, dpa reported.

But the breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia are opposed to an international peacekeeping force, currently being discussed by the European Union.

Russian forces have retreated from the central Georgian city Gori, but continued to control access to the important Black Sea port Poti and other cities in western Georgia and Abkhazia, Saakashvili said.

Moscow on Friday announced its complete withdrawal from central Georgia soil outside the disputed breakaway regions, but said forces would remain in buffer zones around South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Saakashvili admitted that he had been surprised by the scale of Russia's response despite his own warnings of Russia's aggression. "I could not have imagined that it would be such a big invasion," he was quoted as saying.

Some analysts say Saakashvili provoked the Kremlin by attacking South Ossetia, which is under Russian protection.

Saakashvili also questioned the loyalty of former parliamentary president Nino Burdzhandze, who said earlier this week that the president had to answer some unpleasant questions after the Russian troops left.

Burdzhandze, a former ally of Saakashvili and potential successor, plans to travel to the United States for talks on the weekend, the internet site Civil Georgia reported.