[JURIST] The North Atlantic Council (NAC) [NATO backgrounder], made up of representatives from 26 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] member nations, urged Russia [JURIST news archive] to reverse its recognition of the independence of two Georgian territories [AP report] on Wednesday. The representatives denounced the decision as violative of international law, and released a statement [text] elaborating on their position:
Russia's decision violates the many UN Security Council resolutions it has endorsed regarding Georgia's territorial integrity, and is inconsistent with the fundamental OSCE principles on which stability in Europe is based. Russia's actions have called into question its commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus.
Georgia's recovery, security and stability are important to the Alliance. NATO calls on Russia to respect Georgia's territorial integrity and to fulfill its commitments under the six-principle agreement signed by President Saakashvili and President Medvedev.
The NATO ambassadors' statement follows similar condemnations issued
Tuesday by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada [text], among other nations. US President George W. Bush called the decision
inconsistent with numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions that Russia has voted for in the past, and is also inconsistent with the French-brokered six-point ceasefire agreement which President Medvedev signed. … The six-point agreement offered a peaceful way forward to resolve the conflict. We expect Russia to live up to its international commitments, reconsider this irresponsible decision, and follow the approach set out in the six-point agreement.
The territorial integrity and borders of Georgia must be respected, just as those of Russia or any other country. Russia's action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations. In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions that remain in force, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia, and they must remain so.
France, which holds the EU [official website] presidency, issued a statement [text] on Tuesday through its Foreign Ministry [official website, English version], saying that Russia's decision also violates the UN Charter [text] and 1975 Helsinki Declaration [text] of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The UN Security Council [official website] most recently adopted a resolution [text] affirming the integrity of Georgia's borders in May. Australia's ABC News has more. From Tblisi, the Messenger has local coverage.
On Wednesday, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev [official website] participated in an interview [text] with Al Jazeera, in which he commented that "what we are talking about here is a fairly standard if rare international procedure, that of recognizing a new state, a new subject of international law." Medvedev had announced his decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a speech [text] on Tuesday, calling it "the only possibility to save human lives." Medvedev cited the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Governing Friendly Relations Between States, the UN Charter, and the Helsinki Declaration as his legal basis for the decision. Russia and Georgia have both filed complaints [JURIST report] with the International Criminal Court as a result of the recent conflict, with each alleging that the other has committed war crimes.