Moscow is ready to develop mutually beneficial contacts with Georgia, but will not deal with its “pathological” President Mikhail Saakashvili, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.
“We do not associate the Georgian people with this character (Saakashvili) and are ready to develop business, pragmatic and mutually beneficial ties in different fields [with Georgians but not with Mikhail Saakashvili],” Lavrov said, as cited by Itar-Tass. The minister was speaking at a media conference following a meeting with his South Korean counterpart in Moscow.
On Monday, the day which marks the three years anniversary of the beginning of the August 2008 war in the Caucasus, journalists asked Lavrov if the restoration of relations between Moscow and Tbilisi was possible.
After Saakashvili ordered Georgian troops to attack the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinval, Russian troops intervened in the conflict to protect civilians, many of whom had Russian citizenship. Soon after the war, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Diplomatic ties between Moscow and Tbilisi were cut and Saakashvili was declared persona non grata in Russia.
However, Lavrov pointed out that the countries have still maintained their relations in the energy sector, as well as the transportation and humanitarian spheres. He also recalled President Dmitry Medvedev saying that Russia was ready to develop trade cooperation with the former Soviet republic. “Of course, only on the assumption that the existing rules and norms will be observed without any attempts at politicization,” Lavrov added.
According to the minister, “Saakashvili is, certainly, a pathological case, an anomaly of the Georgian people”. In addition, he was given “a bad upbringing”.
“We will not deal with a person who gave a criminal order to kill peacekeepers and innocent civilians, including Russian citizens,” Sergey Lavrov stressed.
The Georgian president keeps making up “aggressive propaganda-style” fairy tales about the events of August 2008, trying to turn everything on its head. However, Lavrov pointed out, there is not a single serious politician in the West who does not realize who was responsible for the situation and how everything was carried out.
Lavrov was quick to assure that those states whose representatives “officially and on a regular basis spoke about the necessity to respect Georgia’s territorial integrity” and publicly demonstrated their support for the current regime, privately revealed their full awareness of the actual situation. “They say what they say because they have to, considering the so-called “political sensibilities,” the minister observed.
On the eve of the tragedy’s anniversary, President Medvedev said that Saakashvili must face an international tribunal for the 2008 aggression against South Ossetia.
The Republic’s president Eduard Kokoity shares exactly the same opinion. Talking to Interfax, he noted that if it was not for the rule of double standards in the West, Saakashvili would have to face The Hague tribunal for the crimes against humanity along with “criminals from the Balkan countries.”
Russian MP and member of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Semyon Bagdasarov, suggested creating an alternative to the International Criminal Court (ICC), since it is very much likely that the court would simply ignore the documents submitted by Russia against its “Western ally Saakashvili”.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Monday that the evidence they collected fully confirms that Georgia’s highest officials planned the military operation against South Ossetia. Copies of the case materials were sent to the ICC prosecutor.
According to Bagdasarov, a trial at The Hague would not be successful. The parliamentarian believes that a new structure should be established – such as a Military tribunal within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Alternatively, Saakashvili should go on trial in Russia. “Even though he is a citizen of a different state, Russian servicemen were killed as a result of his actions,” he told Rosbalt news website.