September 17, 2008,

The Kremlin, Moscow

Statements following Signing of the Treaties on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the Republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and gentlemen,

Todays meeting with President of the Republic of Abkhazia Sergei Vasilyevich Bagapsh and President of the Republic of South Ossetia Eduard Dzhabeyevich Kokoity is a special occasion. We have just signed treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between Russia and the Republic of Abkhazia and between Russia and the Republic of South Ossetia. This is truly a historic event and we took a difficult road to get here. The peoples of these republics have endured much to reach this moment.

The treaties signed today are a logical stage in the development of events in the region since the beginning of the 1990s and a continuation of the steps Russia has taken since August 8 this year. Russias objective was to rein in the Georgian aggressors, restore peace and stability to the Trans-Caucasus region and create the conditions for the Abkhazian and South Ossetian peoples free and democratic development.

As you know, on August 26, I signed decrees recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I signed these decrees guided above all by the provisions of the United Nations Charter, the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations between States, and the 1975 Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

We have taken another important step today. The treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance are the beginning and perhaps the cornerstone for building the legal foundations of our bilateral relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia relations that we will build on the basis of international law. Today, we are laying a solid foundation for the broadest and most comprehensive partnership in the interests of our peoples. In accordance with the treaties we have signed, our borders will be open for business and cultural contacts and quite simply for ties between our peoples. Next on the agenda are sector-based agreements in the highest priority areas. These include security, state border protection, counter-terrorism, customs, the economy, investment and other sectors. The treaties we have just signed will serve as the basis for all of these future agreements.

The key task now is to ensure Abkhazias and South Ossetias security. The agreements we have signed contain provisions enabling our countries to take the necessary joint measures to remove threats to peace and respond to acts aggression. We will provide each other will all necessary support, including military support. The treaties provide for this in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter proclaiming the right to individual or collective self-defence. 

I want to take this opportunity here and now to stress that any repeat aggression by Georgia (and revanchist feelings are visible there, unfortunately, and the state is continuing its militarisation) would lead to a regional catastrophe. There should be no doubt in anyones mind that we will not allow another military adventure. There should be no illusions on this count. 

Dear friends, the agreements we have signed today have great importance for developing the multiethnic Trans-Caucasus region. Lasting security and stability are the guarantee of peaceful life for all the regions peoples and are a crucial condition for rebuilding trust and good-neighbourly relations and bringing about social and economic recovery in both republics. 

I would like to congratulate all citizens of Russia, the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia on this important occasion. It is truly an event of immense significance for our peoples.

On behalf of the people of Russia I would like to wish your fraternal peoples peace, success and prosperity. I stress that Russia will continue to provide you with all the necessary assistance.

Thank you for your attention. 

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ABKHAZIA SERGEI BAGAPSH:  Dmitry Anatolyevich,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the multiethnic people of Abkhazia, I would like to say a huge thank you from all my heart to you, Dmitry Anatolyevich, and to all the people of Russia. We thank you not just for today and for the decision of August 26. We thank you for the fact that Russia always stood with us over all these last years, stood with South Ossetia and with all the peoples who wanted to live beside Russia and together with Russia. 

This is a historic day for our small country. We realise the great responsibility we have and are doing everything we can to build a democratic and rule-of-law state in which there will be no war and where the rights and freedoms of all minority peoples will be respected. We guarantee this with our lives and our Constitution. The legacy built up over the centuries between Abkhazia and Russia must continue its development in our actions and desires today. We look in this life to the great country with whom we have traversed all these centuries, and we will always keep this legacy alive.

Once again, I want to say a big thank you from all of us and to wish Russia peace, stability and strength, because when Russia is strong its neighbours will know peace, stability and mutual respect.

Thank you very much. 

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH OSSETIA EDUARD KOKOITY: Dmitry Anatolyevich,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Republic of Ossetia and the Russian Federation was signed today. This document is an immensely significant and historic event for South Ossetia not just because we have concluded a fundamental political agreement with one of the worlds big powers, but because the treaty creates a solid foundation for security guarantees for our country and for the Caucasus region in general.

This is a question of vital importance for the people of South Ossetia, who would have faced complete extermination were it not for Russias intervention. We have said repeatedly that our desire to establish an independent South Ossetia recognised by the international community was dictated by the need to protect our peoples right to freedom, human dignity and quite simply our right to life in the face of the constant threat from Georgia. Russias recognition of South Ossetia as an independent state has opened a new era for us and given us the possibility of ensuring a secure future and sustainable development for current and future generations. 

The treaty we signed today sets out the basic objectives and principles in all areas for the strategic partnership between South Ossetia and Russia in the long term. The document creates maximum opportunities for constructive work aimed at peace, security, and economic and social development. The document will serve as the basis for other agreements in different sectors that will contain specific provisions for cooperation in various areas. The treaty is a forward-looking document but at the same time it is also built on the great historical experience of relations between Ossetia and Russia a history that goes back centuries. These relations have stood the test of time and there is every reason to be confident in their future prospects.

I would like to say a few words about one very important aspect of modern international relations. Fairness and readiness to selflessly help those in need combined with courage and determination have long since been inherent qualities of Russias policies and this has won Russia the great love and respect of many peoples. Russias position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, its resolute action to force peace on the aggressor and its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are based on a desire to ensure peace and protect our peoples from extermination. This convincingly demonstrates the changes underway in international relations today, namely that moral principles and a firm commitment to international law, justice, peace and democratic development are the force that can withstand all attempts to impose a single-polar world based on diktat and a policy of double standards.

The Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between South Ossetia and the Russian Federation is a new affirmation of the priority of democratic rights and freedoms, the values and ideals of the civilized world, and makes a real contribution to forming a fair system of international relations for the twenty-first century. I am sure that this is the direction the international communitys development should follow in the third millennium.

Once again, I would like to express my immense gratitude and thanks to you, Dmitry Anatolyevich, and to the entire Russian people for your support and help to the people of South Ossetia.

Thank you.

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