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Russia fails to win support of Asian alliance

Other News Materials 28 August 2008 16:32

Russia's hopes of international support for its actions in Georgia were dealt a blow Thursday, when an Asian security alliance denounced the use of force and called for respect for every country's territorial integrity, according to reports.

The joint declaration from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, left Russia further isolated as pressure mounts over its actions in Georgia, reported CNN.

"The presidents reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of respect for historic and cultural traditions of every country and efforts aimed at preserving the unity of a state and its territorial integrity," the declaration said, The Associated Press reported.

"Placing the emphasis exclusively on the use of force has no prospects and hinders a comprehensive settlement of local conflicts," AP reported the nations, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as saying.

Russia had appealed to the SCO alliance to support its actions in Georgia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sought their support at a summit Thursday in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan.

Medvedev told the group support for Russia would serve as a "serious signal for those who are trying to justify the aggression."

Russia is trying to counterbalance mounting pressure from the West over its military action in Georgia and its recognition of two breakaway regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

On Wednesday a U.S. ship carrying aid docked in Georgia, while Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband traveled to the Ukraine, which is worried about Russia's intentions in the region, to offer the UK's support. Video Watch more on rising tensions "

Miliband equated Moscow's offensive in Georgia with the Soviet tanks that invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring democratic reforms in 1968, and demanded Russia "change course," AP reported.

"The sight of Russian tanks in a neighboring country on the 40th anniversary of the crushing of the Prague Spring has shown that the temptations of power politics remain," Miliband said.

Russia, however, has continued to defend its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russian military entered Georgia proper from the provinces in early August after Georgian troops attacked separatists in South Ossetia. Russia called it an extension of their peacekeeping duties. The West and Georgia called it an invasion.

Medvedev said recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia "was not a step taken lightly, or without full consideration of the consequences."

In an op-ed that appeared on The Financial Times Web site, he said Georgia was fighting a "vicious war on its minority nations."

Russia and the Caucasus region are jumbles of nationalities and, Medvedev said "relations between nations living 'under one roof' need to be handled with the utmost sensitivity."

He said after communism fell, Russia "reconciled itself to the 'loss' of 14 former Soviet republics, which became states in their own right" and observed that around 25 million ethnic Russians "were left stranded in countries no longer their own."

One of those former Soviet republics is Georgia, which "immediately stripped its 'autonomous regions' of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their autonomy," he said.

He said Russia had enforced peace but "fears and aspirations of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples" lingered because Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili talked of rearming his troops and "reclaiming 'Georgian territory.'"

Medvedev said the West ignored "the delicacy of the situation."

Germany on Wednesday added its criticism to Russian recognition of the two republics.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told Medvedev by telephone the move violated international law and the six-point Russian-Georgia cease-fire agreement brokered on behalf of the European Union by France.

Merkel said: "The continued Russian presence in Georgia outside of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, for example, in Poti, represents ... a significant violation of the six-point plan agreement."

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Georgia during civil wars in the 1990s. Russia strengthened ties with them after the U.S. and much of Europe recognized the independence of the Serbian province of Kosovo earlier this year, a move that Moscow had warned against.

The Bush administration has insisted that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain part of Georgia, a U.S. ally that is seeking NATO membership.

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