Day: August 26, 2008

McCotter Policy Recommendations

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter Central and Eastern Europe Policy Recommendations

*President Bush should publicly urge the European Union to accelerate accession and partnership negotiations with Ukraine and Georgia.

*Congress should authorize a large-scale Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance package to CEE countries (possibly authorizing American military advisors to be placed in CEE- with the permission of host countries).

*Congress should authorize qualified, non-NATO CEE allies to receive the same Foreign Military Sales (FMS) preferential treatment as NATO+3 (Australia, Japan, and NZ).

*Congress should authorize additional Economic Support Funding (ESF) to Georgia to repair its damaged infrastructure.

* President Bush has directed the United States Permanent Representative to NATO to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States at NATO to ensure NATO offers Membership Action Plans (MAP) to Georgia and the Ukraine and indefinitely suspends high level NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meetings, the President and Congress should continue these efforts.

*Congress should enact a series of triggers to end Russia’s PNTR and sanction Russia with Column Two Tariff Rates if they attack a CEE country.

*Congress should enact Representative Chris Smith’s Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act.

*Eventually, Congress and the President need to agree to classify large-scale, organized cyber attacks against government web sites constitute an act of aggression.

*Convene a Joint Session of Congress for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to address the vital importance of maintaining the sovereignty, security, and liberty of the Georgian people and her CEE neighbors.

How to contact your congressman about Russian invasion of Georgia
1. Dial               1-202-225-3121         and you will be connected to the main Congressional switchboard, the operator will answer.
2. Ask the operator to transfer you to your Representative’s office.
3. Your call will be transferred to your congressman’s office, and when the person answers, simply say “Hello, my name is________, I live in_________(name your city), and I would like Congressman________ to sign Congressman McCotter’s letter which invites Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvilli to address a joint session of congress.”
4.  Often, the congressional office will ask for your name and address so the Member of Congress may acknowledge your call by writing you a letter.  Do not worry that you will be asked to justify or explain the policy behind your phone call.  These are routine calls that each office is accustomed to, and it will go smoothly and quickly.

Statement by the President of Georgia

26 August 2008 / 20:10

Statement by the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili

The Russian Federation’s actions are an attempt to militarily annex a sovereign nation-the nation of Georgia. This is in direct violation of international law and imperils the international security framework that has ensured peace, stability, and order for the past 60 years.

Russia’s decision today confirms that its invasion of Georgia was part of a broader, premeditated plan to redraw the map of Europe. Russia today has violated all treaties and agreements that it has previously signed.

Russia’s actions have been condemned in the strongest possible terms by the entire international community, which has reaffirmed its support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. The Government of Georgia is grateful for the world’s support.

The regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized by international law as being within the borders of Georgia.

Today, by its actions, the Russian Federation is seeking to validate the use of violence,direct military aggression, and ethnic cleansing to forcibly change the borders of a neighboring state.

Russia’s refusal to withdraw its military forces from Georgia-and its attempt to annex two regions of Georgia-is in direct violation of the EU-brokered cease fire to end its invasion and occupation of Georgia.

The two regions in question have been de-populated by conflict and continue to be subject to widespread ethnic cleansing by Russia and its proxies-as confirmed by the United Nations and other international bodies.

These are areas where the local populations- simply because of their nationality – have been chased out, with the direct intervention of the Russian Federation.

The few civilians who remain in these regions have been given Russian passports en masse, in violation of international law and norms, making a mockery of the principle of “right to protect”.

One such expulsion took place in 1993 in Abkhazia. Others took place last week in South Ossetia and in Upper Abkhazia/the Kodori Gorge.

I remind you that before the first conflict, more than 525,000 people livedin Abkhazia. Today less than 150,000 do.

I remind you that ethnic Georgians in South Ossetia have been systematically forced to flee that territory due to Russia’s invasion. The attacks on ethnic Georgians, both inside and outside the conflict zones, are continuing.

The ethnic cleansing is something that the local rebel separatists are proud to announce – and which Russia, through its actions, is attempting to legalize.

Is it legal to remove ethnic groups from their homes using violence and terror?

Is it moral or legal for an ethnically cleansed area to be rewarded with independence by a neighbor?

If intervention in Kosovo was about stopping ethnic cleansing, today’s decision by the Russian Federation is about rewarding and legalizing ethnic cleansing.

Russia has turned logic and morality on its head.

Russia’s decision is therefore a direct and grave challenge to the international order.This a challenge for the entire world. Not just Georgia.

It means that today, annexation and ethnic cleansing have once again become tools of international relations.

If accepted by the international community, it means that foreign-sponsored groups around the world can use violence and ethnic cleansing to achieve their ends.

It means that third parties can arm, sustain and direct those groups in order to change the borders on the world’s map.

Today, it is clear around the world that Russia is acting as an aggressor state.

My appeal to the free world is to condemn and reject Russia’s dangerous and irrational decision – NOT only for Georgia’s sake – but for the sake of preserving the fundamental basis of international law and order.

On behalf of my Government and people, I condemn this reckless act and want to state clearly that the Russian action does not hold any legal value.

As before – and according to international law, Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is inviolable.

Russia’s aims, method and goals are now clear.

The Russian Federation has used military force to try to dismember my country.

In the days and weeks ahead we will work with the international community to prevent this decision from having any effect on the sovereignty of my country and from further undermining the international order.

Together we must stand united against this aggression and call on you for your assistance and immediate reaction.

This is a test for the entire world and a test for our collective solidarity.

This is the test that we – all free people – must not fail.

My friends, we are all concerned today. And today Georgia counts on your support.

Today a challenge has been posed to all of us.

Today the fate of Europe and the free world is unfortunately being played out in my small country.

But together, we can and we must unite to meet this challenge.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

Georgian foreign ministry statement

A statement issued by the Georgian Foreign Ministry today says that the fact, stated by Russia, that it does not plan to withdraw its troops from Georgian territory “indicates clearly that the Russian Federation after its attempts of military intervention in Georgia, invasion of a part of Georgian territory and overthrow of the democratically elected government, has decisively chosen ethnic cleansing and destruction of civilian infrastructure with the use of military force as an instrument of its foreign policy.” In addition, it says:

Russian troops are illegally stationed in Poti and its adjacent area located 30 kilometers away from the conflict zone of Abkhazia and 160 kilometers away from the conflict zone of Tskhinvali region.

On 25 August 2008, late at night, drunken Russian servicemen broke into a local plant of the Nikora private company in Poti robbing and raiding it. This fact makes it obvious that the Russian occupation troops present in Georgia have turned into gangs of looters riding roughshod on the civilian population and economic infrastructure. 

The Georgian foreign ministry “calls on the international community to take all measures necessary to prevent the Russian Federation from invading the territory of Georgia, conducting ethnic cleansing and destroying its economy.”

Bildt: Russia has chosen confrontation

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt writes (my tr.):

That the Russian leadership has chosen this path means it has chosen a policy of confrontation not only with the rest of Europe but also with the international community as a whole.

The decision means that Russia has now opted for a route which will have far-reaching consequences for a long time to come.

Att den ryska statsledningen nu valt denna väg innebär att man valt en politik av konfrontation med icke bara det övriga Europa utan också det internationella samfundet i stort.

Beslutet innebär ett ryskt vägval med genomgripande konsekvenser för lång tid framöver.

The logic of occupation

Victor Yasmann (RFE/RL) writes – just before today’s announcement of Russia’s recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian “independence” – about the looming diplomatic war between Russia and the West. Excerpt:

Russia is following a precise logic in its actions. Moscow will recognize the “independence” of the two republics and conclude agreements on political, military, and economic support with them. Furthermore, as Medvedev promised, Russia will give international guarantees to both republics, meaning that it will lobby for their recognition by the United Nations. From a legal point of view, international organizations can ignore pleas from the unrecognized republics themselves, but they cannot ignore appeals from Moscow.

In making those appeals, it seems Russia is not likely to stress the idea of self-determination, which is a potentially explosive argument for Russia itself and other CIS countries. Instead, it will actively push arguments related to charges of Georgian “genocide” and the legally “incorrect” way in which Georgia left the Soviet Union in 1991. In the latter case, Moscow will argue that the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia never wanted to take such a step.

It seems unlikely that any Western countries will acknowledge the two republics anytime in the foreseeable future, just as Russia and most CIS countries will not recognize Kosovo. In addition, Russia’s main Asian partners — Iran, China, and India — will also decline to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, inasmuch as they have their own real and potential ethnic troubles. But Russia will be satisfied even if the two regions establish a status similar to that of the Republic of Northern Cyprus, which has been recognized only by Ankara for decades.

The strengthening of Russia’s position in the CIS will lead to increased tensions with almost all countries that have significant Russia populations or large numbers of Russian citizens. Primarily, this means Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

As for Georgia’s territorial integrity, it has clearly fallen victim to Moscow’s insistence that Georgia never join NATO. Before the war, Moscow tried to achieve this goal through the frozen conflicts. Now, despite the war, Moscow’s main aim is unchanged.

The presence of Russian forces and the creation of buffer zones on Georgian territory will simply solidify the state of conflict and complicate Tbilisi’s efforts to join NATO. On the one hand, all NATO members have expressed solidarity with Georgia and are ready to offer help. On the other hand, granting NATO membership to a country entangled in a military confrontation with Russia will certainly not be easy. It is possible the United States might conclude a bilateral agreement with Georgia, similar to the one it concluded with Poland as part of the missile-defense accord.

Moscow is also no doubt hoping that, with time, Georgians will become increasingly enraged about the losses of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and will replace Saakashvili with a leadership that is more acceptable to Russia. Moscow might facilitate this scenario by stimulating separatist feelings in Mingrelia and Ajara, which border Abkhazia. These efforts could lead to the disintegration of Georgia or, at least, to that country losing its access to the Black Sea.

In order to counter such a scheme, the West would have to find quick and effective methods of integrating both Georgia and Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community.

US senators on Russian aggression

In the Wall Street Journal, Republican senator Lindsey Graham and Independent Democratic senator Joe Lieberman have published a joint statement on the Georgia crisis and the implications of Russia’s aggression. They point to the growing evidence that Russia plans to repeat its actions in Georgia elsewhere among its neighbours, in the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine and Crimea. Noting that any assistance plan to Georgia must include the rebuilding of its armed forces, including the anti-armour and defensive antiaircraft capabilities that have so far been denied to them, the senators look to the wider regional context, and stress that

Our response to the invasion of Georgia must include regional actions to reassure Russia’s rattled neighbors and strengthen trans-Atlantic solidarity. This means reinvigorating NATO as a military alliance, not just a political one. Contingency planning for the defense of all member states against conventional and unconventional attack, including cyber warfare, needs to be revived. The credibility of Article Five of the NATO Charter — that an attack against one really can and will be treated as an attack against all — needs to be bolstered.

The U.S. must also reaffirm its commitment to allies that have been the targets of Russian bullying because of their willingness to work with Washington. The recent missile-defense agreement between Poland and the U.S., for instance, is not aimed at Russia. But this has not stopped senior Russian officials from speaking openly about military retaliation against Warsaw. Irrespective of our political differences over missile defense, Democrats and Republicans should join together in Congress to pledge solidarity with Poland, along with the Czech Republic, against these outrageous Russian threats.