G-7 countries condemn Russia over Georgia

Other News Materials 28 August 2008 02:07 (UTC +04:00)
G-7 countries condemn Russia over Georgia

The world's leading industrial nations on Wednesday condemned Russia's actions in Georgia, underlining the country's growing estrangement from the West.

The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Japan and Italy - known as the Group of Seven - said in a joint statement that Russia's decision to recognize the Georgian rebel territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries violated the small pro-Western country's territorial integrity.

"Russia's decision has called into question its commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus," the countries' foreign ministers said in a statement. "We deplore Russia's excessive use of military force in Georgia and its continued occupation of parts of Georgia."

The statement also called on Russia to fully implement the Georgia peace plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on behalf of the EU, "in particular to withdraw its forces behind the pre-conflict lines."

Two weeks ago, officials told The Associated Press that the G-7 countries were weighing whether to effectively disband what is known as the G-8, which incorporates Russia, by throwing Moscow out.

Russia started attending the G-7's meetings in the 1990s, when it was hoped the country would join the ranks of the world's liberal democratic societies. Instead, the country drifted toward authoritarianism: Russia's major news outlets were brought under state control, governors were stripped of their independence and political reforms effectively gave the Kremlin's opponents no real chance of winning elections. The invasion of Georgia, following fighting in its breakaway province of Abkhazia, has further alienated Moscow from the group.

Moscow's isolation from its colleagues was emphasized by their statement that they "condemn the action of our fellow G-8 member."

However Russia's expulsion from the group seems unlikely, at least for now. Even Britain, whose relationship with Russia took a turn for the worse after the 2006 murder-by-poison of former security services agent Alexander Litvinenko, said it did not see the need to disband the G-8.

Speaking in Ukraine, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that his country would have to review its relations with Russia "in all international institutions" but added: "I do not apologize for rejecting knee-jerk calls for Russia to be expelled from the G-8, or for EU-Russia or NATO-Russia relations to be broken."

"No one should ever be able to say that there isn't a diplomatic process," Miliband said, according to AP.