Russia denies pressuring Belarus to recognise Georgia's breakaway regions

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has denied putting pressure on Belarus to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, the Itar-Tass news agency reported on Monday. "I have never asked, and never will ask, any other state to recognise these territories, because this is not my business, it is the business of those other states to recognise them or not," Medvedev said.

According to the Russian President the decision to recognise the two "new states" as independent was a "tough one". "We did this only because Georgia conducted aggression against the population of these territories, we did it just to defend the citizens living there, including the Russian citizens there," Medvedev noted.

He suggested that speculation that some party is pressing Belarus to take a decision on Abkhazia and South Ossetia was a "provocative action" which aimed at "bargaining more favourable conditions" for Minsk. Medvedev admitted that Russia would like other countries to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent. "I will not hide it: for Russia it would be better if these new entities obtained more recognition," he said. "This would help them develop their economies and more readily improve their living conditions," Medvedev stated, reiterating that Russia has never interfered in or tried to control this recognition process. "This contradicts the principles of international law," he said.

Meanwhile Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin has accused Georgia of wanting to "return to the conflict phase." Speaking to Russian magazine Ogonek on Monday, he claimed that Georgia is the only party interested in resuming military actions in the region. "They are trying to regain their lost territories at any expense. Militarisation is continuing and further straining the situation," Karasin said. "Here is where diplomacy comes into play. We are working and hope to achieve success," he added. The Deputy Foreign Minister said the Geneva talks were a tool for improving the situation.

The Georgian side has downplayed Karasin's claims, saying that Georgia is not preparing any aggression. Speaking to The Messenger, MP from ruling National Movement Davit Darchiashvili said that Russia's claims that the August war and the deployment of Russian troops in Georgia's breakaway regions were a "step towards stability" is an attempt to present "wrong as right." "Georgia wants to achieve the fulfillment of the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement, not a new conflict," Darchiashvili said.


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