Abkhazia, South Ossetia Not Precedents for Karabakh, Says Lavrov

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Thursday that his country’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states does not set a precedent for other post-Soviet regions seeking independence.

Lavrov said that unlike Georgia, other ex-Soviet states involved in territorial disputes do not plan to use military force to resolve them. "There can be no parallels here," he said, referring directly to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and the Moldovan breakaway region of Transdnestr.

Moscow’s intervention following Georgia’s offensive to retake South Ossetia in early August and the subsequent recognition of the two breakaway regions’ independence were its moral duty and necessary to protect them from possible new acts of aggression, Lavrov said.

But the majority of Western states have sided with Tbilisi in the dispute, and strongly criticize Russia.

Lavrov said Russia is committed to its mediation efforts in disputes between Moldova and its breakaway Transdnestr Region, mainly populated by ethnic Russia’s and Ukrainians, and Armenia-Azerbaijan talks for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Russia will actively promote a peaceful solution to all the conflicts in the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] in line with international law and UN Charter principles," he said. "We will pursue our mediation in peace talks, including over Transdnestr and NagornooKarabakh."

"None of the sides engaged in the Karabakh and Transdnestr talks have nurtured plans to violate international law, existing agreemen’s, the settlement format and to bomb civilians and peacekeepers," Lavrov said.

Russia, which is a co-chair in the OSCE Minsk Group mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has maintained peacekeepers in all the conflict zones since the conflicts broke out there after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia’signed formal cooperation treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Wednesday promising military and economic aid to the regions.

Russia’s President, Dmitri Medvedev met with his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday where he proposed a package of peace initiatives for s settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. According to the Russian Kommersant daily, Medvedev was expected to offer Aliyev a set of energy proposals in order to guarantee that Baku will steer clear of Western political and energy games.

It said that source in the Russian Foreign Ministry involved in Tuesday’s negotiations said openly that Moscow would like a firm guarantee from Baku that it will not consider a military option in resolving the Karabakh problem, either before or after its October presidential elections. Azerbaijan has been threatening to recapture Karabakh by unleashing its oil-enriched military on the nascent republic.

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