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Helsinki Commission Co-Chairmen Condemn Russian Assault on Georgia

Washington- Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), made the following statement on Russia’s assault on the Republic of Georgia:

“Russia’s intervention into Georgia is a clear violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity and Principle Four of the Helsinki Final Act,” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin. “We urge Moscow to cease its military operations immediately.”

Chairman Hastings noted, “The Russian Federation has departed from its commitment to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) guiding principles of refraining from the threat of or use of force in the settlement of disputes; respect for the inviolability of borders and the territorial integrity of states; and the peaceful settlement of disputes.”

Co-Chairman Cardin commented, “Georgia and Russia have accused each other of responsibility for this military confrontation. But Moscow’s rejection of arbitration by the international community clearly demonstrates its indifference to cooperation and ending the hostilities, which have been building.”

Said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin “We are very troubled by media reports of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement to Secretary of State Rice that President Mikheil Saakashvili ‘must go.’ Only the voters of Georgia can make that decision. Removing a democratically elected president through military action is unacceptable to the United States and the broader international community.”

Chairman Hastings concluded, “Last month, during the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Astana, I introduced a resolution expressing concern of many Participating States about the alarming sequence of events that have long escalated tensions in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia, and raised the prospect of armed conflict in the area. I deeply regret that my apprehensions have now come to fruition.”

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