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17 Aug, 2008 11:41

‘We will never give up any part of our territory’ - Saakashvili

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili says the country won’t give up “any square kilometre of its territory” in a warning to its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The comments are in stark contrast to the words of the leaders

Saakashvili was speaking at a joint news conference in Tbilisi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Negotiations were focused on the situation in the troubled region and finding ways to resolve the tension.

Merkel called on the Russian troops to be withdrawn from the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone and wants an international peacekeeping mission to be deployed in the region.

“We should manage very promptly the bringing of the international peacekeepers to the region, Russian President Medvedev agreed,” she said. “We need to reach refugees, we need humanitarian corridors.”

Merkel said Germany and the EU are ready to contribute towards the international peacekeeping forces.

She also reiterated that Georgia can become a NATO member and will join the alliance if it wants to. But she called on Georgia to adhere to the ceasefire agreement.

In typically bullish mood, Saakashvili told the news conference that Georgia will not give up Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“As I once said, and one thing should be made very clear, Georgia will never give up any square kilometre of its territory. No matter what happens we will never reconcile with the fact of annexation or indeed separation of parts of territory from Georgia with the attempts to legalise ethnic cleansing”.

His views directly oppose the stance of the two republics, who insist they want to separate from Georgia. Eduard Kokoity, president of South Ossetia, said last week: “We don't doubt the results of the two referendums that have been held on the territory of the republic of South Ossetia. We do not intend to hold a third one. We respect the will of out people and we know what we want.”