Georgian leader tells General Assembly of internal ‘iron curtain’
Georgia has had a "new Iron Curtain" running through it since conflict erupted in mid-2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the country's President told the General Assembly today, calling on Russia to withdraw its troops and change its policies, UN website reported.
"It is never too late to overturn a bad policy," Mikheil Saakashvili said at UN Headquarters in New York. "The dismemberment of Georgia has failed categorically - and even the Russian Federation will one day need to reverse its disastrous policy."
Fighting broke out in August 2008 between Georgian forces and South Ossetian and Abkhaz separatists and their Russian allies. South Ossetia and Abkhazia each subsequently declared their independence from Georgia, and those declarations have been recognized by Russia and several other countries.
"I solemnly call today on those three, isolated UN Member States that recognized Russia's de facto annexation of our territories and legitimized the Russian-led ethnic cleansing campaigns to reverse their decision," Mr. Saakashvili said.
"I dream about the day when an Abkhaz or Ossetian citizen of Georgia - as it happened several times in our common history - will become president of a reunited, democratic and European Georgia."
He stressed to his "fellow citizens of Abkhaz and Ossetian origins who live behind the new Iron Curtain that divides our common nation... [that] we will protect your rights, your culture, your history."
The President added that Georgia would act on this issue in a spirit of what he described as "constructive unilateralism," preferring negotiations to conflict, even when provoked.