Statement from SecState Rice on Georgian Cease-Fire Agreement and Next Steps
Following is a statement that Secretary of State Rice made today in Tbilisi regarding the sirtuation in Georgia, the cease-fire agreement, and next steps. I have also included an excerpt from her Q&A with reporters and highlighted throughout a few parts that I thought were particularly interesting.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. President, as President Bush noted in his statement a couple of days ago, he has sent me here to show the solidarity of the United States with Georgia and its people in this moment of crisis.
We support Georgia’s sovereignty. We support its independence. We support its territorial integrity. We support its democracy and its democratically elected government. That is America’s position. And in my discussions with my European colleagues, it is the position of the Europeans as well.
The Russian attack on Georgia had profound implications and will have profound implications for Russia’s relations with its neighbors and with the world. But our most urgent task today is the immediate and orderly withdrawal of Russian armed forces and the return of those forces to Russia.
France has brokered a six-part ceasefire accord that will achieve that result if it is indeed honored. President Saakashvili, as he has said, has signed this document after I have been able to offer some clarifications from President Sarkozy about the meaning of certain terms. The President has signed it. And now, with the signature of the Georgian President on this ceasefire accord, all Russian troops and any irregular and paramilitary forces that entered with them must leave immediately.
This is the understanding that I had with President Sarkozy yesterday, which is that when President Saakashvili signed this ceasefire accord, there would be an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgian territory. With the signature of this ceasefire accord by Georgia, this must take place and take place now.
Now, in order to stabilize the situation in Georgia, we need international observers on the scene fast. And eventually, we need a more robust and impartial peacekeeping international force that would follow those monitors. Finnish Foreign Minister Stubb, who is the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, has told us that the monitors could come to Georgia in a matter of days. I count on Russian cooperation in getting those monitors in.
The United States and others are already providing humanitarian assistance to the Georgian people. Access must be immediate and unimpeded for those humanitarian efforts. When the security situation in Georgia is stabilized, we will turn immediately to reconstruction. And people who are displaced from their homes must be allowed to return and to live in security.
I want to reiterate again what the President said. He directed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to begin a humanitarian mission to the people of Georgia, headed by the United States military. That mission will be vigorous and ongoing. And I believe, Mr. President, that that mission is now well underway.
We have started work with the Georgian Government and have engaged the G-7, the IMF, and other international financial institutions to rapidly develop an economic support package for the Georgian economy to build on its demonstrated track record and to resume its rapid growth. We anticipate that this package will include various multilateral and bilateral mechanisms. The package should restore Georgia’s economy and reinforce investor confidence as Georgia returns to its position as a leading economy in the region.
Georgia has been attacked. Russian forces need to leave Georgia at once. The world needs to help Georgia maintain its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and its independence.
This is no longer 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, when a great power invaded a small neighbor and overthrew its government. The free world will now have to wrestle with the profound implications of this Russian attack on its neighbor for security in the region and beyond.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
QUESTION: Dr. Rice, … (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) international peacekeepers cannot come to Georgia because the parties do not want to see them.
SECRETARY RICE:Well, first things first. This agreement is a ceasefire agreement. It doesn’t prejudice future arrangements. It is a ceasefire agreement. It does include a return to the status quo ante for military forces. Georgian forces will deploy back and Russian forces except for the forces that were there prior to – peacekeeping forces that were there prior to August 6th will also leave. Russian forces are to leave Georgian territory outside the zone of conflict.
Now, the President has received some clarifications on what was in the document known as Point Five, which is what temporary measures can be in place until there are international monitors in place. And I have been talking, or we have been talking with Foreign Minister – Finnish Foreign Minister Stubb about getting those monitors in place very quickly
There will have to be an international discussion, which is also prefigured, expected in this agreement, about future arrangements for the zones of conflict. I might note that there have been international discussions for more than a decade now. Hopefully, they will come to some fruition. And at that point, we will have to have measures that can assure stability and security in the zones of conflict.
And it is the position of the United States that that will have to – that will require international peacekeeping forces that are neutral in the conflict. But that will have to be a part of further discussions.
I want to emphasize what the President said. This is a ceasefire agreement. This is not about the future of these conflict regions. This is a ceasefire agreement.