A RIA Novosti correspondent reports that Georgian Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili has accused Russia of aggression.
When speaking on Thursday evening at a general political discussion of the 57th session of the UN General Assembly, the minister stated in particular that "the Russian authorities and mass media are continuing to increase the pace of aggressive attacks against the Georgian sovereignty." He also denied that the Georgian leadership was incapable of coping with terrorists hiding in the Pankisi Gorge.
The Georgian diplomat acknowledged, nonetheless, that "several gangs of Chechen terrorists did penetrate Georgia during the two Chechen wars." In his words, the Georgian leadership ignored Russia's persistent demands to carry out an operation to eliminate the aforesaid gangs fearing that "the continuing bloody war will spread to Georgia." He referred to the issue of the Pankisi Gorge (the very place where, as Moscow believes, Chechen militants are hiding) as "a side effect of the war in Chechnya." "Georgian commandos assisted by our friends are conducting an operation to restore law and order in the Pankisi Gorge," the minister said. He also stated that there were certain positive results there and Georgia was not only "ready to co-operate with all parties concerned," including Russia, but also agreed with the world community's monitoring.
Meanwhile, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov who had arrived in Washington the other day to take part in a session of the Consultative Group on Strategic Stability emphasised that the Georgian leadership "neither can nor wants to fight militants, it is co-operating with them." In his words, he was going to submit to the American side "irrefutable proof that Georgian officials are linked to and assist terrorists trying to control their activities targeting them against either Abkhazia, Russia or Azerbaijan." When addressing the UN, Menagarishvili also said that Russian peacekeepers were incapable of ensuring security in Abkhazia and proposed to deploy there an international police force under the UN aegis. His stand was that the peacekeepers failed to guarantee "the security so that refugees and forcibly displaced persons could return to their houses in Abkhazia. In fact, they have created an artificial border between the territory controlled by separatists and the rest of Georgia." The Georgian foreign minister also accused Russia of "russificating" Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia.