Tbilisi Tells Moscow to Remove ‘Soviet Legacy’ from Georgia

President Saakashvili said there is no reason to visit Moscow before the issue of the Russian military bases stationed in Georgia, which he described as “the last legacy of Soviet totalitarian domination,” is solved.

Saakashvili said at a news conference in Tbilisi on May 7 that during a phone conversation he personally informed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin regarding this decision not to travel to Moscow because there has been no progress in the talks over a timeframe for the withdrawal of the Russian military bases.

“He [Putin] has received our position with understanding,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Mikheil Saakashvili planned to visit Moscow on May 8-9 to participate in the summit of leaders of Commonwealth of Independent States and to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the World War II, only in the event that the Georgian and Russian Foreign Ministers could agree on a timeframe for the bases’ pullout during the talks in Moscow on May 6.

Saakashvili said that despite the intensive talks that have been carried out with the Russian side in recent months no final agreement has been reached yet. Moscow refuses to close down its bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki by January 1, 2008, as demanded by the Georgian side.

“These bases are the last legacy of the Soviet totalitarian domination here and we hope that this issue will be solved in a civilized, diplomatic manner,” the Georgian President stated, adding that “it is very difficult to talk about my visit to Moscow when we have this problem.”

Mikheil Saakashvili refrained from answering the question of whether Georgia will impose certain restrictions on the Russian bases in case an agreement is not reached before May 15, 2005, as is envisaged by a resolution, adopted by the Georgian Parliament on March 10.

“We sincerely hope that this issue [with the bases] will be solved,” Saakashvili replied.

Saakashvili held a brief news conference on Saturday, shortly after an emergency session of the Georgian National Security Council was convened to discuss the issue of Russian military bases. No details of this session have been reported.

Meanwhile, On May 7 Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili met with the foreign diplomats accredited in Georgia and briefed them over her recent talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, held in Moscow on May 6.

Tbilisi hopes that U.S. President George W. Bush will push this issue during his talks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 9.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said in an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax on May 7 that the U.S. and many other member states of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty made it clear that an adapted CFE treaty will not be ratified until Russia meets its commitments regarding the pullout of its military bases from Georgia and Moldova, undertaken at the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Summit.


Back to top button