Georgia quits CIS as Medvedev orders end to military operation

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has announced his country is to leave the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an alliance of former Soviet republics. It follows Dmitry Medvedev’s order to end Russia’s military operation in Georgia.

Saakashvili made the announcement during a rally in the capital Tbilisi. In his speech he called on other countries in the union to leave the organisation.

"We have decided that Georgia will leave the CIS," he said. "We urge Ukraine and other countries to also leave the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is dominated by Russia".

The CIS includes all the former Soviet republics apart from the Baltic states.

The Georgian leader also denounced the peacekeeping agreements with Russia, and declared all Russian troops in Georgian territory as "occupational forces invading Abkhazia and South Ossetia".

He continued by accusing Russian tanks and artillery of shooting at the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, and clamed to have personally seen it. The city is in ruins after shelling by Georgian troops.

Medvedev lists conditions for troop withdrawal

Medvedev has outlined the conditions under which the Russian troops will fully withdraw and peace negotiations can begin.

"We have two conditions," he said. "First, all Georgian troops should return to their initial positions and be partly demilitarised. Second, Georgia should sign a legally binding document that will provide the non-use of force."

Sarkozy in Moscow to discuss conflict

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in Moscow to discuss the situation in South Ossetia. He has already met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and told him that the decision to stop military action in the conflict zone is good news.

"The Russian announcement to end fighting is news that we expected," he said. "I believe that’s good news. Now it’s necessary to ensure there is a ceasefire and to have a timetable so that everyone can return to the state before the crisis."

Sarkozy also showed his understanding of Russia’s position. He added that France and Europe sought peace, and all the efforts now are aimed at achieving it.

"It’s quite normal that Russia wants to defend its interests, as well as the interests of Russians both in and outside Russia. It is also normal that we, the international community, want to guarantee the integrity, sovereignty and independence of Georgia. France has delivered a document to you and, I hope, we will be working on that basis."

Peace enforced

Earlier Russian President Medvedev said the security of the South Ossetian population and of Russian peacekeepers has been restored. He added that the aggressor has been punished and suffered considerable losses.

The Russian President said he would award the military with state medals for the successful operation.

Russian FM calls for Hague tribunal over Georgia

Meanwhile Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, spoke out against Georgia at a joint news conference with the Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb.

He called for crimes committed by the Georgian military in South Ossetia to be investigated by the international tribunal in The Hague.

Lavrov accused Georgian peacekeepers of firing on their Russian counterparts and believes they shouldn't be allowed back into the region.

"They have discredited the status of peacekeepers," he said. "They have committed a crime - shooting at their companions with whom they have been serving in a joint peacekeeping force. One can’t discuss the possibility of any form of Georgian military presence in South Ossetia."

[Source: Russia Today, Moscow, 12Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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