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8 Aug, 2009 16:42

Putin: Georgia could have maintained its territorial integrity

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Georgia could have kept Abkhazia and South Ossetia within its territory if it had treated its people with respect.

As Putin pointed out Saturday, speaking from his Sochi residence in the south of Russia, the most important thing in avoiding tragedies similar to last year’s war in South Ossetia is that the people who make decisions must consider the opinion of people who live on the territory.

“Any geopolitical issue cannot be dealt with without people’s will," Putin said. "That’s what the current Georgian administration has forgotten.”

According to the Russian prime minister, to maintain its territorial integrity after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia had to treat the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia with respect.

“What did they do? Exactly the opposite,” Putin continued.

“There’s been military pressure, fewer rights, and in the end – aggression, a crime, which resulted in huge losses. So, we had only one choice – to protect the people and recognize their independence. After we did it, the situation in the Caucasus stabilized,” Putin explained.