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Ex-leaders call on Europe to stand up for Georgia

RIA Novosti

14:57 22/09/2009 MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has been joined by a number of other ex-European leaders in urging the EU to stand up for Georgia in its territorial dispute with Russia.

In an open letter published by The Guardian and other European papers on Tuesday, the authors said twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain "a new wall is being built in Europe - this time across the sovereign territory of Georgia."

The authors recalled the infamous 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the 1938 Munich agreement between major European powers and Hitler, which permitted the German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland, and urged current European leader to "learn lessons of history" and not "to tolerate the de facto annexation of foreign territories by a larger power."

"We urge the EU's 27 democratic leaders to define a proactive strategy to help Georgia peacefully regain its territorial integrity and obtain the withdrawal of Russian forces illegally stationed on Georgian soil," the letter said, the Guardian reported.

The authors said it was essential that the EU send "a clear and unequivocal message" to Russia as a European Union commission prepares to publish a report on the causes of the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war.

Germany's Spiegel reported on Monday, citing diplomats in Brussels, that the commission puts the blame for the start of last August's war over South Ossetia on Tbilisi, but holds Russia responsible for its escalation.

The findings are likely to reignite debate on the five-day war when they are published.

The conflict broke out when Georgia attacked South Ossetia. Russian forces repelled the Georgian attack and briefly advanced into Georgia. Russia has since recognized South Ossetia and another province, Abkhazia, as independent states and built up its military presence there.

The letter's other authors include Lithuania's former president Valdas Adamkus and former Estonian leader Mart Laar.


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