At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on August 8, envoys from Russia and Georgia traded accusations over who was responsible for escalating the conflict in South Ossetia. The council was unable to agree on a statement and is expected to continue talks.
RFE/RL's Georgian Service Director David Kakabadze spoke with Georgia's ambassador to the United Nations, Irakli Alasania, about the outcome of the August 8 session and the situation in South Ossetia.RFE/RL:
Mr. Ambassador, how content are you with the results of the UN Security Council meeting, which was convened at your request? Irakli Alasania:
The meeting itself was very important, because [for] all members of the Security Council -- and I would also like to point out that this was an open meeting, and journalists, representatives of international media, had an opportunity of observe it -- it became clear, from the factual material, what form of aggression are we dealing with.
The meeting was still going on when even more worrisome and tragic news was received from Tbilisi -- that the town of Poti had been bombed, Senaki had been bombed again, that there were casualties, and what is equally important -- Russia had used strategic bombers."RFE/RL:
When speaking at the meeting, you told the council that the situation needed a quick response. However, no concrete texts have emerged so far, and the consultations are to continue. Why is this process being prolonged for so long? Alasania:
[For us] it is very difficult to observe the absence of swift and appropriate response from the international community. However, I would like to remind you once again, that the Russian Federation -- which represents a side, and now in fact is the aggressor -- is a permanent member of the Security Council, with the veto power. This, of course, complicates taking any concrete, tangible decisions within the council.RFE/RL:
The Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, accused Georgia of extremely serious things -- that the Georgian forces are obliterating towns in South Ossetia, that they are engaging in ethnic cleansing, and so on. How can Georgia counter this kind of war of words? Alasania:
I don't think Churkin's speech made any impression on the Security Council members, because for them this is not the first time that the Russian delegation resorts to this kind of Soviet-style propaganda. However, of course it is necessary for the international media to really focus on the events in Georgia -- and, in fact, this is already happening, as all of the leading television stations and Internet outlets are intensively covering Georgia during these days.RFE/RL:
Georgia is calling for active support from the United States. Could you tell us what sort of support is meant here, and what kind of mechanisms, do you think, can be used in the present circumstances?Alasania:
I think there are various mechanisms that the United States can use when dealing with Russia -- both in a bilateral format, individually, as well as collectively, together with its European colleagues. This is precisely what we are hoping for -- that the Russian Federation will be pressured to stop the bombardments, the aggression against Georgia. I would not be able to speak about any concrete talks and consultations that are under way, but I can confirm that the United States has assumed this function of a mediator.RFE/RL:
So active diplomacy is seen as the way out from this difficult situation Alasania:
The EU, and its current president country, France, is also involved in these negotiations. Let's wait and see. I still hope that it will be possible to come out of this extremely difficult situation through diplomatic means, and to normalize the situation.
Status: The region broke away from Georgia in a 1991-92 war. A peacekeeping force with 500 peacekeepers each from Russia, Georgia, and North Ossetia monitors a 1992 truce.
Population: Approximately 70,000 (according to the 1989 census, about two-thirds Ossetian, one-third Georgian)
Languages: Ossetian, Georgian, Russian
Religion: Orthodox Christianity
South Ossetia: Timeline Of A Crisis