08TBILISI277, GEORGIA RESPONDS TO KOSOVO’S INDEPENDENCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI277 2008-02-19 10:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1189
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0277/01 0501028
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191028Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8905
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000277 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG RU
SUBJECT: GEORGIA RESPONDS TO KOSOVO'S INDEPENDENCE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  Following Kosovo's unilateral declaration 
of independence on February 17, most Georgian leaders, from 
President Saakashvili to the Patriarch, stated publicly that 
Kosovo does not constitute a precedent that can be followed 
by other breakaway regions, including Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia.  All voices warned Moscow against taking advantage 
of the situation in the conflict regions.  No public calls 
were made to recognize Kosovo's independence.  The opposition 
demanded the government not recognize Kosovo, adding this 
item to other demands on the government.  FM David Bakradze 
advised the Ambassador that Georgia fears Russia may begin a 
"devastating creeping annexation" of Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia.  One hour after Secretary Rice's press release from 
the Department on February 18, Embassy Tbilisi released its 
statement on Kosovo.  End Summary. 
 
---------------------------------- 
Kosovo no Precedent, Russia Warned 
---------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) Georgian leaders were united in opposing Kosovo as a 
precedent for recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian 
independence: 
 
-- President Saakashvili stated that he will give an "active 
response" to any steps toward recognition of Abkhazian and 
South Ossetian independence following the situation in 
Kosovo.  He said, "I want our people and the international 
community to understand that we have the power" to respond to 
any such recognition in this context.  Saakashvili continued, 
"We shall eradicate any provocation, therefore we do not 
advise anyone to exacerbate relations with us in the issue of 
Georgian territorial integrity.  We want to resolve all 
issues peacefully -- we do not need any unrest now -- but 
Georgia will not step back." 
 
-- In a sermon on February 17, Patriarch Ilia II of the 
Georgian Orthodox Church slammed Russia's rhetoric regarding 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  He said, "Everyone in Georgia is 
united on this issue.  Georgia has been and should remain a 
unified state.  I have told the Russian authorities several 
times that separatism is like a transmittable disease and 
everyone should remember this." 
 
-- Speaker of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze said that Kosovo 
cannot serve as a precedent for the Georgian conflict areas, 
because "there was ethnic cleansing and genocide in Kosovo." 
Any comparison is "groundless and unacceptable."  She added 
that Russia should be aware that its actions would backfire, 
damaging its own interests. 
 
-- On February 18, MP Giga Bokeria, an influential 
Saakashvili insider, said "Georgia has no plans to recognize 
Kosovo's independence."  Senior MPs from the majority party 
concurred with Bokeria's statement. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Opposition Calls for No Recognition 
----------------------------------- 
 
3. (U) The United National Council of Opposition (UNC), and 
the opposition New Rightists and Labor parties, also jointly 
demanded the government refuse to recognize Kosovo's 
independence on February 18.  UNC leader Levan Gachechiladze 
said Georgian recognition of Kosovo's independence "would be 
disastrous for Georgia."  This consensus view was added to 17 
other pending UNC demands of the government (regarding 
parliamentary elections), driving this issue into internal 
Georgian politics.  The UNC also said that should the U.S. 
request Georgia recognize Kosovo in exchange for Georgia's 
membership in NATO, the request should be denied.  UNC leader 
Kakha Kukava said Abkhazia and South Ossetia are "priceless." 
 He continued, "If Russia recognizes Abkhazia's independence, 
hostilities will start in Georgia as well.  It makes no 
difference who will be the first to start." 
 
-------------------------------- 
FM Bakradze and Ambassador Speak 
-------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) On February 18, the Ambassador spoke with FM David 
Bakradze and told him Embassy Tbilisi would issue a statement 
following Secretary Rice's statement on Kosovo.  In light of 
Russian comments regarding their relations with the conflict 
regions, Bakradze told the Ambassador that Georgia fears 
Russia may begin a "creeping annexation" of Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia.  Bakradze said this approach would avoid an 
immediate Russian "blowup" with the West and Georgia, but it 
could be "equally devastating for Georgia." 
 
TBILISI 00000277  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
----------------------------------- 
Embassy Tbilisi Statement on Kosovo 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (U) At local time 2145, approximately one hour after 
Secretary Rice's statement on Kosovo was released, Embassy 
 
SIPDIS 
Tbilisi released the following Statement on Kosovo: 
 
Today the United States recognized the independence of 
Kosovo.  The United States has long held that each separatist 
conflict any
where in the world is unique.  Indeed, the 
situation in Kosovo is a special case and does not serve as a 
precedent for other regions, including the Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia regions of Georgia. 
 
The unusual combination of factors involved in Kosovo 
includes a specific UN Security Council Resolution 
envisioning a status process and an extended period of 
transitional UN administration.  UNSC Resolution 1244 was 
intended to help determine Kosovo's future status through a 
political process that contemplated the possibility of 
independence.  This makes the Kosovo case fundamentally 
different from all other existing cases. 
 
In sharp contrast, UN Security Council Resolutions on Georgia 
that have been issued on a regular basis since 1993, 
including most recently UNSCR 1781 of October 2007, reaffirm 
the commitment of the United States, Russia, the United 
Kingdom, France, China, and all Security Council members to 
the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of 
Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.  The 
United States reasserts the importance of resolving the 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts through peaceful 
negotiations and within a unified Georgia in accordance with 
the above principles. 
 
In the wake of these latest developments in Kosovo, we call 
on all members of the international community to avoid any 
public statements that could undermine the chances for 
peaceful, negotiated settlements of the Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia conflicts.  Any attempt to resolve these conflicts 
other than through a negotiated compromise risks undermining 
peace and stability throughout the Caucasus.  Instead, we 
urge all state to reaffirm their support for Georgia's 
sovereignty and territorial integrity within its 
internationally recognized borders, consistent with the 
repeated resolutions of the UN Security Council. 
TEFFT

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