Remarks from an address by Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili on October 2 [Civil Georgia, my stylistic editing]:
“I want to return to this topic again and again, because this is a very important issue.
This report has confirmed that everything we said about last year’s events was true.
We said that Russia entered and was arming separatists and engaging in provocation– and it turned out to be true. We said that the distribution of passports [by Russia to the residents of the breakaway regions] was ongoing and it has been confirmed. We said that [Russia] had no citizens in Georgia to protect and it has been confirmed. We said, and I have said – staking my reputation on it – that Russian regular forces entered Georgia before August 7 – hence a military aggression took place, and this has also been confirmed by the [EU-funded fact-finding] commission. The most difficult thing was to confirm it, because it [the introduction of Russian regular forces] was done covertly, but our teams and our friends did good work, and it was confirmed.
Of course, once these things were confirmed, the mission prepared an accusatory conclusion: for the first time in history a permanent member of the UN Security Council has been directly accused of war crimes; it has been directly accused of ethnic cleansing – hence crimes against humanity – and of aggression.
It was a fact-finding mission; the commission’s task was not to make conclusions. But the mission made conclusions anyway and eventually said: yes,this is what happened, and although the Russian forces were already present in Georgia, it was Georgia that fired the first shot, and that was a violation of certain norms.
I have law professors who may possibly be better versed in international law than some of the European experts who made this conclusion. But no professors are required, or even much knowledge – any first-grade student can tell you that when a foreign country’s army – the army of a country which has been openly threatening you with war for many years, and is in fact waging war – and the commission said that this conflict did not start yesterday, but when units of [Russian] paratroopers entered Georgia – it is called a direct military aggression by a foreign country.
But if that is so, it means that Europe ought to handcuff and arrest [the Russian leadership]; but they are unable to do that.
Some of our compatriots do not have the self-respect to acknowledge that this is so.
Our truth has been proved and we should be happy about it and struggle to rid our country of foreign occupation. The truth will find its road.
The aggression by Russia is now actually proved; ‘actually’ – because to give a full explanation of that would mean that the whole of Europe should stand up, but we are under no illusion that this will happen any day soon, because they have lot of bitter experience in this regard.
I want to say again with full responsibility – it was a sacred duty for myself and for all of us to respond with all possible resistance when a foreign country’s army entered our land.
We did it and I do not regret it a bit.
I am proud and it was proved that not a single woman and child were killed as a result of our operation – so much for the talk of “genocide”.
Our peaceful struggle rid our country of foreign occupation will continue until this struggle is finally over.
I want to ask those people who do not want to face reality – how would France have acted in this situation? how would Germany have acted?
As we know from history, the Spanish Armada invaded the British coast and the British were the first to fire at the Armada; so was it Britain that started the war or was it Spain? Is what is permissible for Europe not permissible for Georgia?
I think that everything that is done by civilized nations is exactly applicable to our country as well. So what if we are a small country? We are a small country but we have a history and a civilization, as well as a bravery that is greater than that of many other countries.
The fate of all freedom-loving nations, including Lithuania, is being decided in Georgia today. We have no illusions that they [Russia] will leave us alone, but we will not go back on our progress in creating a free and democratic state.”
On a separate occasion today, the President also said:
“We do not need to be taught by anyone. We are grateful to Europe for telling the truth… But we acted as England, Germany or France would have acted.”
“[In history] those who did not fire a shot have vanished from the map… Finland fired a shot and preserved its independence” [a reference to the Soviet attack on Finland in 1939]. “Our historic experience tells us that when an enemy invades your territory you should resist it, as Finland did.”