Russia acted like colonial power in Georgia: Czech foreign minister

Other News Materials 28 September 2008 08:00 (UTC +04:00)
Russia acted like colonial power in Georgia: Czech foreign minister

When Russia invaded Georgia last month it acted like a colonial power determined to slice up and take over parts of its neighbor, the Czech Republic's foreign minister said on Saturday, according to Reuters.

"We have recently witnessed systematic provocations and finally military aggression of a powerful country, a permanent member of the Security Council, against its small neighbor with the aim to carve it up," Karel Schwarzenberg told the U.N. General Assembly.

"This action was designed to create two tiny entities totally dependent (on) its administrative, economic and military structures. Colonial powers used to act this way."

Russian forces thwarted an attempt by Tbilisi to re-establish control over its breakaway region South Ossetia, which has since declared independence, along with another breakaway enclave, Abkhazia. Only Russia and Nicaragua have recognized their independence.

Schwarzenberg suggested that Moscow had violated a fundamental principle of the U.N. charter and international law -- that disputes should be resolved peacefully and without resorting to military force, except in self-defense.

Prague has had its own experience with Russian tanks. Soviet troops and soldiers from four communist bloc countries stormed into the former Czechoslovakia 40 years ago last month to halt a liberalization movement, fearing it might provoke a wider pro-democracy push.

Russia has denied having territorial designs on countries in the region, although Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that there were areas where Moscow has "special interests," a geographic region he previously said included the former Soviet Union.

Lavrov has also said that the invasion of Georgia was in "self-defense" to protect Russian passport holders in South Ossetia from further attacks by Georgian forces. Western diplomats have called it de facto annexation of South Ossetia.

Schwarzenberg dismissed the implication that there was a special zone where Russia had the right to invade sovereign countries.

"Alleged interests -- privileged as they may be considered -- cannot justify the violation of our highest common principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter," he said.

Prague's relations with Moscow have been strained in recent years due to the Czech Republic's decision to host a radar system on its territory as part of a U.S. missile shield. Poland has agreed to host 10 U.S. missile interceptors.

Moscow, which sees the plan as an encroachment on its sphere of influence, has said the shield is really aimed at Russia and would respond militarily to the deployment of U.S. missile interceptors close to its borders.