Russia rejects criticisms, calls for meeting with NATO

August 11th, 2008 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Aug 11 (DPA) Russia’s ambassador to NATO asked Monday to meet the alliance’s top officials over the crisis in Georgia and rejected any criticism of his country’s actions, drawing parallels with NATO’s bombing raids in Serbia in 1999. “This morning the Russian mission to NATO made the decision to propose holding an extraordinary session of the NATO-Russia Council. We insist that before NATO make any statements it conduct responsible work to find out the facts,” Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin told journalists in Brussels.

Diplomats from NATO’s member states are set to discuss the conflict raging in the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday and are due to hold talks with Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili.

Rogozin said that he, too, should be invited to address the meeting, so that any NATO decisions can be made “taking into account our information and being informed of our actions”.

Western media have so far been “inadequate” and “biased” in their reporting, ignoring what he called Georgia’s “ethnic cleansing” in South Ossetia and Russia’s humanitarian efforts there, he said.

At the same time, he rejected accusations from some European states that his country had breached its mandate as a peacekeeper, saying that NATO forces had acted in the same way when they attacked Serbia in 1999 at the height of the Kosovo war.

NATO’s bombing campaign of 1999 brought to an end a long-running ethnic conflict in Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic-Albanian province which earlier this year declared independence from Serbia.

Those attacks caused more damage than Russia’s current campaign in Georgia has done, Rogozin said.

“People who were silent in 1999 have no right to criticise now,” he said.

Rogozin accused Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of orchestrating a “pre-planned genocide” in South Ossetia, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In an apparent blow to European efforts to bring about peace talks between the Georgian and Russian presidents, he said that Russia would not countenance any direct talks with Saakashvili.

“Saakashvili, after he did this, is no longer the man for us,” he said.

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