By Shii Kazuo
Executive Committee Chairperson
Japanese Communist Party
September 5, 2008
One month has passed since Russia and Georgia opened hostilities over the South Ossetian Autonomous Region, which is part of Georgia. The hostilities began with Georgia taking military action against South Ossetia. Russia responded to this by sending in its South Ossetia-based forces and reinforcing them with forces from Russia to carry out incursions into various Georgian locales outside of South Ossetia. The two countries signed a cease-fire agreement on August 13 and Russian forces are pulling their forces out of Georgia. However, Russian forces are still in Georgian territory outside of South Ossetia. What is more, the Russian government on August 26 unilaterally recognized the South Ossetia Autonomous Region and the Abkhazia Autonomous Republic, which are part of Georgia, as independent states.
Faced with concerns and criticism from among the international community, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, “We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War.” The hostilities are thus becoming a critical issue that has a bearing on the world order in the 21st century.
Russia’s military incursions into Georgia and its unilateral recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states are contrary to international law and the U.N. Charter that call for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all U.N. member nations to be respected.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia more than once pledged to honor the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all members of the former Soviet Union.
In December 1991, the former Soviet republics issued the Alma-Ata Declaration to establish the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Its member countries, including Russia, pledged to “recognize and respect one another's territorial integrity and the inviolability of existing borders within the Commonwealth.” In the relation between Russia and Georgia, it was agreed that Russian forces would be stationed in South Ossetia as peacekeepers to cope with the ethnic conflicts in the region on the premise that Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity be respected.
What is more, since 1993, the U.N. Security Council on a number of occasions has adopted resolutions on Georgia, calling for “the commitment of all Member States to Georgia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders” to be respected. Russia has always voted in favor of the resolutions.
It is clear that the recent Russian action goes against the commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity, which Russia has reaffirmed before the international community, and goes against the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law.
The reason Russia gave for its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states was Georgia’s military action against South Ossetia. The Georgian government explained that it had carried out the military action in order to “restore constitutional order in the region” (Georgia’s defense minister). However, the Georgian government deserves criticism for attempting to resolve the ethnic question militarily and for causing extensive damage to South Ossetian residents.
However, South Ossetia is part of Georgia. Although the present issue is related to Russia, which deploys a peacekeeping force in it based on mutual agreement, it is basically an internal affair that arose within the territory of Georgia. Georgia’s military action must not be used to justify Russia’s military incursions into Georgia from South Ossetia where Russian forces were stationed under an agreement between Russia and Georgia.
In addition, the cease-fire agreement signed by Russia and Georgia after the hostilities between them called for opening “international discussions on security and stability modalities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” It is absurd for Russia to recognize the two regions unilaterally as independent states soon after it agreed to discuss the “security and stability” of the two regions with Georgia.
Russia caused deep concerns and provoked severe criticism from the international community when it carried out its first military incursions into another country since the collapse of the Soviet Union and recognized the independence of the two regions, which would unilaterally change the borders that had been made inviolable at the time of the foundation of the CIS.
Furthermore, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in his speech on August 18, said, “Practically at no time in its history did (Czarist) Russia, the Soviet Union, or modern Russia ever start hostilities.” We cannot overlook that fact that in saying this, he distorted, or even praised, the history of a number of acts of territorial expansionism and hegemony by Czarist Russia and the Soviet Union under Stalin and his successors. It contradicts the reflections expressed by the Russian government over the Soviet Union’s military invasion of other countries, including Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
As a party that has firmly opposed so many hegemonic acts by the Soviet Union under Stalin and his successors, the JCP is deeply concerned about the Russian president’s remark.
The JCP demands that the Russian government pull its troops back to the areas where they had been stationed before the outbreak of the recent hostilities, withdraw its recognition of the two areas in Georgia as independent states, and strictly respect Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
We strongly call for the present question to be resolved peacefully through political and diplomatic talks between the parties concerned in compliance with the U.N. Charter and international law.