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30 September 2002

U.S. Tells OSCE Russia Should Not Threaten Georgia

(Davidson statement to OSCE Permanent Council) (460)
The United States "takes strong exception" to a recent statement by
Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he threatened unilateral
action against Chechen fighters and international terrorists in the
Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia if Georgian authorities do not take
more active measures against them.
"We understand the Russian concerns, but we firmly believe that
problems in the Pankisi Gorge should be addressed by the Georgian
Government," the deputy chief of the U.S. Mission to the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Douglas Davidson, told the
OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna September 26.
Davidson endorsed a suggestion that a team of OSCE experts, including
representatives of the Russian Federation, assist Tbilisi and Moscow
in negotiating a political solution to the dispute.
Following is a transcript of his remarks:
(begin text)
U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe Vienna
September 26, 2002
ON THE SEPTEMBER 11 STATEMENT OF RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN
Delivered by Deputy Chief of Mission Douglas Davidson to the Permanent
Council
Mr. Chairman, I would like first to reiterate once again the United
States' strong support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial
integrity. The United States takes strong exception to President
Putin's much publicized September 11 statement threatening unilateral
action against Chechen fighters and international terrorists in
Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, should Georgia not take more active measures
against these fighters. The U.S. responded immediately to this
statement both through public declarations and high-level diplomatic
channels, stating our unequivocal opposition to any unilateral Russian
military action inside Georgian territory.
Our reaction is similar to the Russian appeal circulated to all OSCE
participating States in Vienna two weeks ago. We have strongly urged
Georgia to regain full control of the Pankisi Gorge region, where we
too believe there are third-country terrorists with links to
al-Qa'ida. These terrorists threaten not only Georgia's security and
political stability, but also that of the Russian Federation. We
understand the Russian concerns, but we firmly believe that problems
in the Pankisi Gorge should be addressed by the Georgian Government.
We fully support the continuing efforts of the Georgian authorities to
clear the Chechen and other fighters from the area. To this end, we
are working with the Georgian military, border guards, and law
enforcement agencies to enhance Georgia's capacity to provide
effective border controls and internal security.
Mr. Chairman, the United States continues to encourage the Georgian
and Russian governments to work together on all levels to promote
regional security on their own respective territories, and to find
negotiated political solutions to their various differences. I believe
I can speak for my colleagues around the table in saying that we will
all do whatever we can to support such efforts. This includes support
for a team of OSCE Experts, including representatives of the Russian
Federation, as suggested by the Georgian Ambassador.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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