CAIRO: As tensions in the caucus run high, the new Georgian Ambassador to Egypt Gocha Japaridze held a press conference to reflect on the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia and to deplore the current situation.
“Unfortunately we were defeated [during the August 2008 war], the Russians invaded our country and expelled 60,000 Ossentians, and 120,000 Georgians’ homes and property was devastated, he said dryly.
“They didn’t kill, they expelled. Everything people had was wiped away and they had to begin again with nothing like this, he added reaching for a blank sheet of paper.
Not all the papers the ambassador presented were as blank. The ambassador also distributed an article from a the Russian-language Independent Newspaper which spoke openly of the possibility of the Red Army using nuclear weapons against Tbilisi if Georgian military capabilities increased to the point which would make a second invasion difficult.
The ambassador was certain that the author of the article had sources in the Russian government.
Japaridze also admitted he was very worried and concerned about the possibility of a second Russia-Georgia War as the one-year anniversary had approached and Georgia remained on high-alert as Russia continued to militarize the areas of Georgia they control. Since the end of the war the Russians have sought to build large bases in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Red Army is not merely building bases for its soldiers it has begun constructing a wall which the Georgian government deplores as the division of sovereign Georgian territory. “I study history and obviously the Russians have not. The first Russian wall in Berlin was a failure and this Russian wall in Georgia will also be a failure. Walls meant to divide people . always end in failure, Ambassador Japaridze predicted.
In an official statement the embassy added that the goal of Russian operations in South Ossetia is “to clear separate Georgian villages in South Ossetia of Georgians without giving them the right of return.
While the Georgian embassy deplored Russia’s boycott of Georgian wines and other goods, Georgia may also consider some symbolic moves of its own. In response to questions from the media regarding the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the ambassador discussed the notion of a Georgian boycott of the games.
“When Russia was originally awarded the Sochi games we supported it. If they continue to do what they are doing in Georgia, we will be forced to boycott it. It happened before; the world boycotted the [1980 Olympic] Games in Moscow.
The ambassador added that to be effective more nations would need to participate in the boycott.
Members of the media also questioned the ambassador about similarities between the situation in Georgia and the situation in Palestine. “I have a deep respect for the issue. The Georgian people deserve peace and the Palestinian people deserve peace as well, he said.
The ambassador remained concerned about the fate of Georgia were it to be abandoned by its allies. “The only guarantee of security we can have is from NATO and the United States if the West wants Georgia to perish then we will. .We will be alone in our struggle . and what we want is to simply live in peace.
During the five-day war in August 2008, the Red Army inflicted a severe defeat on Georgian forces. Estimates of casualties vary, though hundreds lost their lives in the conflict, mostly civilians.
Following the war, the Russian Federation and Nicaragua recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway regions in Northern Georgia. Amnesty International estimates 30,000 Georgians remain displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict.