Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Conflict in Georgia

Delivered in Plenary - 22nd October 2009

Madam President

Although it is factually correct that President Saakashvili did indeed launch an attack on South Ossetia in 2008, this was only after provocation including severe economic sanctions and a build-up of Russian troops in the occupied territories.

The report does not seem in my view to fully reflect the fact of the disproportionate response by Russian forces, which involved bombing civilian areas of Georgia like Gori and allowed systematic ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia and the occupation of Georgian territory by Abkhazian forces.

Saakashvili, in my view, was indeed intemperate in seeking to regain control of sovereign Georgian territory, and made a terrible political mistake – though it was, after all, Georgian sovereign territory. However, Russia now is determined illegally to establish a sphere of influence in other countries in its neighbourhood, the so-called ‘near abroad’, which are of course sovereign territories which should be respected in international law.