Georgian president says he wants peace with Russia

April 30th, 2008 - 9:50 pm ICT by admin  

Moscow/Tblisi, April 30 (DPA) Georgia Wednesday appeared to be attempting to prevent the dispute with Russia over its breakaway province of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from further escalating with President Mikhail Saakashvili saying that the country sought an end to the conflict. In a televised address to the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Saakashvili said: “Georgia wants peace.”

Earlier Wednesday, Georgia attacked Russia’s plans to boost peacekeeping troops in the two breakaway Georgian regions as the start of “full scale military aggression”.

The Georgian foreign ministry called the plan an “act of irresponsible provocation,” Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The remarks came after Russia’s defence ministry announced Tuesday an increase in peacekeeping forces to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in response to what it called aggressive moves by pro-Western Georgia.

“If Georgia puts in place the threats it has made on a number of occasions about the use of force, we would be forced to take retaliatory measures to protect the lives of our citizens,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

The EU leaders called for calm, with EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana saying that the bloc would like to “de-escalate the tension.”

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are both Russian-dominated regions of Georgia which fought brief separatist wars in the early 1990s and which still reject Tbilisi’s rule.

The Georgian authorities insist that the two regions are its sovereign territory and accuse Moscow of supporting the rebels. Most inhabitants of the two regions hold Russian passports.

In the light of rising tensions between Georgia and its two regions over the past week, Russia decided Tuesday to send more peacekeeping troops into the breakaway provinces.

That decision was “not wise”, even if it was in line with peace agreements, Solana said.

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