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Opening Session of Ukrainian Forum: “The Events in South Ossetia and the Reaction of the Ukrainian Public”

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Opening Session of Ukrainian Forum: “The Events in South Ossetia and the Reaction of the Ukrainian Public”


16.08.2008

The opening session of Ukrainian Forum – “The Events in South Ossetia and the Reaction of the Ukrainian Public” – has taken place. Diplomatic missions from Russia and Georgia were invited along with those from countries bordering the conflict zone – Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine’s first president, took part in the discussion along with other public officials and experts.

Although the main topics of the forum were the consolidation of Ukraine, the protection of national interests and European security, the meeting also addressed initiatives to resolve the conflict between Georgia and the unrecognized republics. Participants stressed the gravity of the situation and the lack of effective solutions offered by Kiev in terms of resolving the conflict through civil society.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Russian Public Chamber’s working group on international activities, spoke at the forum.

“Everyone in Europe knows who started this war and why. I think that Mikheil Saakashvili genuinely believed that the Georgian army, which is certainly stronger than the Chechen army, could defeat Russia. This would have been a so-called case of ‘Saakashvili’s resuscitation,’ which was necessary given his loss of popularity in the West after last year's killings of opposition members. Russia, however, once again proved to the world that it cannot be trampled on. Our peacekeeping actions were absolutely predictable and permissible.

“Yet since the early 1990s, the residents of South Ossetia have lived outside of Georgian statehood and Georgia’s legal system. At first, they did not even have passports. Today, approximately 30,000 people have fled the unrecognized republic and 1,600 civilians have been killed. In this sense, Saakashvili may indeed have tipped the balance. Whereas before there may have been some people who were willing to live as part of Georgia, today no one is willing to do so.”

Excerpts of participants’ comments (Russian and Ukrainian): http://russkiymir.ru/common/img/uploaded/files/events/ukrforum_082008.pdf

Full report on the opening of the Ukrainian Forum (Ukrainian): http://www.uf.org.ua/News/153

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