Salome Zurabishvili, whose presidential candidacy has been endorsed by the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party, has triggered public criticism over her controversial Russo-Georgian war-related remarks.
Below, Civil.ge offers a compilation of these remarks by date.
August 6: Russia launched the war a century ago. We yielded to Russia’s provocation [in 2008] and got involved in the hostilities. It was Georgia who launched this part of hostilities. It is widely known and it represents an official version that was also confirmed by the European Union. The tragedy of war is our tragedy and – let me say one thing – as the President, I will never yield to provocations because when you are a small country, you should be cleverer than your enemy.
August 8: If you need an explanation of what has happened, I will put this issue otherwise: how should we explain the developments, when the hostilities were unleashed at the time, when Georgia had no advantage.
When Georgia had been warned by its allies not to take military steps, because it would not receive any assistance, when you do not pin hopes on any assistance, when you have no advantage, when the factor of surprise is not on your side, how else can we explain yielding to provocations and launching mass shelling of your own population? Stupidity, whims of the insane President or a strange and unclear deal with our centuries-old enemy?… This is the question that you [journalists] should ask.
August 9: During the last two days, I heard a number of statements and interpretations on my August war remarks.
1. There is a clear answer to the question who was aggressor in 2008 and it was Russia.
Before August 2008, Russia had illegally occupied our territories, preparing for the August war, and Saakashvili and his inner circle had information about it. In August 2008, the ongoing processes developed under the Russian scenario, as it had been prepared long before the August war.
2. There is a clear answer to the question whether Saakashvili and his inner circle contributed to the implementation of the Russian scenario and it is ‘yes.’
Moreover, stupid and treacherous behavior by Saakashvili and his inner circle was a necessary precondition for implementation of Putin’s scenario. Instead of answering Russian provocations with ensuring security of our population and attracting international partners’ attention, he gave a military response to Russia’s military provocations that was used by Russia as a pretext for unleashing the war against Georgia.
It was a huge crime committed by Saakashvili and his National Movement against Georgian people and the Georgian state.
We should remember about it for two reasons: not to allow their return to power and to ensure that no future government commits similar irreparable crimes against the country and its own people.
I will always reiterate it, no matter how bitter this truth may appear for the National Movement and its satellites, who were and remain Russia’s stronghold in our country.
An finally, those people blaming me, [people] who allowed Russia to bring back its troops – withdrawn due to my huge efforts from this country – is nothing but insolence and feeble attempt to overshadow the crimes committed by them.
This is my final comment on August war. We have an interesting presidential, European campaign ahead of us.
August 11: Let me repeat – but I think, nobody is interested in it – that Russia launched the war a century ago and I, my family and all emigrants are the first victims … it is a century-old war unleashed by Russian imperialism against Georgia’s independence. The fact is that it was Russia who launched the war and if anyone in this country does not know about it, it is a problem…
What happened in 2008? We should ask this question to all Presidents, because it is an important question for us. We are still facing this threat. We see what is happening in the region and throughout the world, and we see current Russian rulers. So, it is absurd to think that similar threats will not reoccur in future. I reiterate that it is the President’s duty to evade similar threats from the country in order not to lose new territories and do everything together with our partners rather than against their recommendations.
The Americans and Europeans were frequently telling us the same. When I worked on the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia, between the talks with the Russian side, I tried to meet our American partners and EU officials, because we, as a small country, have no right not to be in line with our strategic or non-strategic partners. It was the occasion when we were left alone at the expense of our territories.
August 24: I have always stated and will again reiterate that the war was unleashed early in the 20th century; it has not stopped since then and this one [August war] was one of the hostilities unleashed by Saakashvili. It is not my fault, it’s Saakashvili’s fault and he should be held accountable.
Who launched provocations? Who unleashed the war? – it was permanent. I served as the minister in 2004 and I know how they were entering through the Roki Tunnel. I will not stay in the format of self-justification; I feel pity for those people, who try to talk with me sarcastically over this issue.
September 11: I used to say since my birth that Russia is Georgia’s enemy, Russia launched the war and we knew about it.
What I want to say – when you are the President, it is your duty, especially when the Americans and Europeans warn you, when large-scale exercises are ongoing near our borders, when you know that Tskhinvali has been evacuated, so when you are the President of Georgia and Russia is staging an open provocation, and U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice arrives specially to warn you not to yield to provocations and when you still yield to provocations that leads to the loss of territories, I say that it is not a responsible behavior by the President of Georgia.
When I become the President, my key duty will be to defend the independence and sovereignty of this country. In order to defend, you should be watchful not to yield to provocations. You should act in a way not to lead your country to occupation.
We have shelled our own population and not a single President enjoys this right. How can we say that we want the integrity of this country? I want integrity of this country and I do not want any President to shell own territory and own citizens.
Although Tskhinvali was mainly evacuated by Russians that was part of provocation, there might have been other deals there… We should know what is behind in order to move ahead. I do not say that Russia has not bombed us.
I promise that these remarks will never be used against me and Georgia, because I am familiar with diplomacy and I know for sure what can be done on international level and how we should act, but saying that we acted in a way that has led to provocations, does not mean that Russia did not bomb us, that Russia did not enter and that Russia is not an aggressor.
September 17: My position concerning Russia has been unchanged for more than sixty years; liberating Georgia [from Russia] has been, is and will be the major cause, goal and dream of mine and of my family.
Russia is an aggressor and an occupant, which I can endlessly repeat … Russia was the occupant in 1801, when it violated the treaty signed by king Erekle II, and in 1921 when it violated the agreement signed a year earlier recognizing Georgia’s sovereignty.[Russia] was the aggressor and the occupant in 2008, when Russia again breached all international documents and agreements, where it had recognized Georgia’s sovereignty and independence.
Russia invaded with tanks and warplanes in the territory that it recognized to belong to Georgia, and not the other way around … Neither I nor any other Georgian will allow ourselves to say that the Russo-Georgian war was launched by Georgia.
When I say the government yielded to Russia’s provocation, I do not mean that Georgia is the perpetrator or that it launched the war … my point is that the then President and authorities committed either a big mistake or a big crime, the results of which we live in today, together with the displaced persons and those living in the occupied territories.