21 November 2001

Statement of 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determined by the mentioned document the issue of the Gudauta Military Base, which had to be completely disbanded and withdrawn by the July 1st, 2001, deserves special attention of Georgia and the whole OSCE Community.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.

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