21 November 2001
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes
any step of the Russian Federation aimed at the implementation of the
provisions of the Russian-Georgian Joint Statement, adopted at the OSCE
1999 Istanbul Summit.
Amongst the obligations determined by the mentioned document the issue
of the Gudauta Military Base, which had to be completely disbanded and
withdrawn by the July 1st, 2001, deserves special attention of Georgia
and the whole OSCE Community. Unfortunately, Russian side has not fulfilled
timely this obligations.
Therefore, we consider absolutely incomprehensible the letter of the
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, dated November
12, 2001, addressed to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Romania, circulated in Vienna, according to the request of
the Russian Federation.
Through the mentioned letter, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation
puts a blame on the Georgian side for the failure of fulfilling the obligations
under the Istanbul Joint Statement, what, according to the Minister is
reflected in reluctance to assist in the process of withdrawal of the
Russian military base from Gudauta. In this regard, we deem necessary
to underscore, that the entire OSCE Community, including Russia, repeatedly
underlined the importance of steps taken by Georgian side for facilitation
of the process of the entire withdrawal of the Russian military forces
from the territory of Georgia.
The detailed information in this respect has been disseminated several
times by the Georgian side in Vienna, within the CFE Joint Consultative
Group, as well as within other international organizations. Consequently
we do not see the necessity to redoing it.
Even more resentment provoking was the fact, that through the mentioned
letter the Russian side blames the Georgian side in instigation of the
hostilities in the Abkhazian region of Georgia, what allegedly hindered
the withdrawal process of the Russian military base from Gudauta.
Issue of this kind of statement, when aware of the numerous confirmed
facts showing that the significant number of the Russian citizens illegally
penetrated with the direct assistance of the administration of the Russian
military base in Gudauta into Abkhazia, Georgia in 1992-93, and aided
the mercenaries and terrorists fighting against the Georgian Authorities,
is absolutely irresponsible and goes beyond any sensible limits.
Along with this, we would like also to underline that in light of the
events developed in the North Caucasus, Georgia repeatedly tried to focus
International Community's attention on this issue and appealed several
times to the Russian side to prevent the conflict's spill over the Georgian
territory. This position of the Georgian side constituted the basis for
requesting the establishment of the OSCE Monitoring Mission on the Chechnian
segment of the border between Georgia and the Russian Federation.
All above mentioned evokes our natural protest. Such irresponsible statement
does not stand alone among the past official statements made by the high-level
Russian officials. The Georgian side calls upon the International Community
to react appropriately in this respect.
Another document, connected with the issue of the withdrawal of Russian
military base from Gudauta is the statement of the Foreign Ministry of
the Russian Federation disseminated on November 9, 2001. According to
this statement the Russian side declared the Military base at Gudauta
as disbanded and withdrawn. The Russian Foreign Ministry also informed
on that its Georgian counterpart through the official note.
In reply to the additional request of the Georgian side, the Russian side
disseminated additional information. According to this information, out
of 34 Armored Combat Vehicles (ACVs) present at the Gudauta Military Base
24 have been already withdrawn to the territory of the Russian Federation
(in particular to Orekhovo-Zuevo), and remaining 10 ACVs were transported
to the checkpoints of the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces dislocated
in the Kodori gorge. At the same time the Russian side provided the information
on the part of the Russian military personnel remaining at the military
base at Gudauta and the other part that has been shifted to the CIS Peacekeeping
Forces located in the Gali district. There was also some information provided
on the armament and equipment stationed at Gudauta.
Considering aforesaid, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia deems
it necessary to receive answers on the number of questions.
Firstly, it is incomprehensible why Russian side has notified Georgia
and the whole OSCE community regarding the activities conducted at the
Russian military base at Gudauta only after their completion, all the
more that during the preceding negotiations both sides agreed upon mentioned
issues and drafted the schedules according to which the withdrawal of
the Gudauta Military Base property had to be conducted by means of 7 echelons;
why Russian side did not ensure the transparency of the process; what
is the basis for leaving the Russian military personnel on the abolished
base at Gudauta (even in the contingent of the peacekeeping personnel),
when the peacekeeping forces according to their mandate should be dislocated
only in the security zone (Gudauta is far away from this zone), and any
deployment of these forces beyond this zone should be agreed with Georgian
side in advance.
It is also noteworthy that Russian side withdrew from the intensive negotiations
on the mentioned matter without giving any justification.
Another important issue also causes confusion: why the infrastructure
of the withdrawn/disbanded Gudauta Military Base was not formally transferred
to the Georgian side, the Ministry of Defense of Georgia in particular,
which is the legitimate owner.
In connection with the aforesaid Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
demands urgent and detailed explanations in connection with the raised
questions and reserves its right not to confirm the fact of the disband/withdrawal
of the Military Base from Gudauta until the mentioned issues are solved.