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18 Sep, 2008 10:40

Time for the West to choose sides – Lavrov

It’s time for Russia's Western partners to decide whose side they are on, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Federation Council on International Affairs on Thursday.

In a comment that suggested the Georgian leader may be losing overseas support, Lavrov said the West is beginning to see through the nature of the Saakashvili government.

“Some in the West are beginning to understand that the Saakashvili regime doesn’t match the standards of a democracy. Democracies don't unleash aggressive wars. And our Western colleagues have to choose whether to support those who killed Russian citizens or withhold their unconditional support,” Lavrov said.

He also called a recent NATO meeting in Georgia a ‘dangerous game’. According to Lavrov, recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was the only way to bring stability to the region.

Lavrov stressed that the actions of Georgia's president sacrificed his country's territorial integrity.

To watch an extract from Lavrov's address please follow the link.

No precedent

Lavrov went on to say that Russia’s decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries does not set a precedent for other post-Soviet breakaway regions.

“Russia will actively promote a peaceful solution to all conflicts in the Commonwealth of Independent States in line with international law and UN Charter principles. We will pursue our mediation of the conflicts in the Transdniester Region and Nagorno-Karabakh through peace talks,” Sergey Lavrov said.

Observers in Tskhinval

Meanwhile, UN observers are in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinval as part of a special mission looking into the recent conflict there. The UN representatives will travel around the region to look at the damage caused to cities and towns.

A meeting with the South Ossetian government has also been organised as well as a chance to meet survivors of the conflict.

After Tskhinval, the mission is set to visit Tbilisi and then Moscow.

’Interests of people are above politics’

On Thursday, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev took part in a ceremony at the Kremlin to welcome new ambassadors. They presented formal documents ratifying their diplomatic presence in Russia.

In his speech to the ambassadors, Medvedev focused on global security and touched upon the situation in the Caucasus.

“We understand that the process of integrating Abkhazia and South Ossetia into the system of international relations will not be an easy one,” he said.

It is very important, he underlined, to “avoid any politicisation and to act first and foremost in the interest of people”.

“Our joint work with the European Union to settle the crisis, which has broken out in the region, proves our serious capabilities and intentions in this direction,” he said.  

“Russia does not need any confrontation. We are open for constructive dialogue, which as before would be based on mutually beneficial grounds. We are prepared for such joint work to strengthen global stability and to intensify international partnership,” Medvedev said.