Mikhail Saakashvili expects the Russian government to take a pragmatic stance on the conflict between Georgia and its breakaway province of South Ossetia. The Georgian President made this clear as he addressed the media after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Tuesday.
Mr. Saakashvili expressed concern over recent pronouncements by the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in South Ossetia, most notably by his proposal to put the issue of national origin to a referendum. "Such actions don't make the situation any better," he emphasized.
On the other hand, Mr. Saakashvili reiterated his country's willingness to have good relations with Russia. "We are doing a lot to improve our relations, specifically in terms of shaping public opinion vis-a-vis Russia," he said.
The Georgian President called on peacekeepers in South Ossetia to carry out their missions, saying that as far as he knew, "attempts are ongoing to supply locals with arms."
"We are determined to use all means, including international, in order to make sure that our citizens feel secure," Mr. Saakashvili said, adding that in his opinion, the conflict in South Ossetia was not an ethnic one.
Mr. Straw, for his part, reported that he had discussed Russo-Georgian relations with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov during his July 6-7 visit to Moscow.
This is a sensitive issue, and we share the opinion that this is a dispute between Russia and Georgia as two sovereign states and that it must be settled in a peaceful and sensible way, the British Foreign Secretary pointed out.