Russia's Asia allies fail to back Georgia action

15:50, 28 August 2008
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And expressed grave concern over tensions in Georgia

A grouping of Russia`s Asian allies expressed grave concern on Thursday over tensions in Georgia but failed to give the Kremlin clear support in its stand-off with the West. In a declaration signed by the leaders of China, Russia and four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, called for reconciliation and more talks.

President Dmitry Medvedev, condemned by the West for recognizing two Georgian separatist regions as independent states, had hoped to drum up support for his action at the SCO summit in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe.

“The SCO states express grave concern in connection with the recent tensions around the South Ossetian issue and urge the sides to solve existing problems peacefully, through dialogue, and to make efforts facilitating reconciliation and talks,” their statement said.

Russia sent troops into Georgia this month to crush an attempt by the country`s pro-Western leaders to retake the Moscow-backed separatist region of South Ossetia.

Mr. Medvedev this week recognized South Ossetia and a second Georgian separatist region of Abkhazia as independent states, defying the West which has said Georgia`s sovereignty over its territory must be respected.

So far, no country – even close allies who often line up with Moscow against the West – has given explicit support for the Russian move.

The declaration did, however, back the six-point ceasefire deal, brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and acknowledged Russia`s role in the Caucasus.

“The SCO states welcome the adoption in Moscow on August 12 of six principles of settling the conflict in South Ossetia and support Russia`s active role in contributing to peace and co-operation in the region,” it said.

At the start of the summit, Mr. Medvedev told leaders from China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan that Russia`s action was a legitimate response to “irresponsible Georgian aggression against South Ossetia.”

“We are thankful for your understanding and an objective assessment of Russia`s peacemaking efforts,” Mr. Medvedev said.

“We are sure that the position of SCO members will get an appropriate international response. I hope it will serve as a serious signal for those, who try ... to justify the bloody adventure of the Georgian leadership,” he added.

Analysts said Russia faced an uphill struggle to win backing over Georgia from its fellow SCO members, many of which have separatist problems within their own borders.

AP via Globe and Mail

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