Russia's plans also include Baltic states - Saakashvili
Archived Articles 29 Aug 2008  EWR
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VILNIUS, Aug 29 (LETA) - The plans of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin not only include Georgia and the Caucasus, but also Ukraine, the Baltic states and Central Asia, and his final goal is the restoration of the Soviet Union, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said yesterday in an interview to the Lithuanian State Television.

According to Saakashvili, Western Europe must "wake up as soon as possible and make a moral decision" regarding Georgia and its membership in NATO.

"We are talking not only about this region alone - Russia has unilaterally divided the map of Europe," said the Georgian leader. "Putin emphasized two things to me - and this is important for the Baltic states to know - that nobody can fight him in the Caucasus and the Western planes will not stop him in the Baltic states. Do not create illusions. He wishes to get his revenge on the break-up of the Soviet Union and Russia's humiliation, and renew the empire," said Saakashvili.

Asked about the possible NATO reaction to Moscow's actions in the Caucasus, Saakashvili answered that this is, at the moment, a moral issue and not a technical issue. "Previously several European leaders wished to turn this into a technical problem, but I hope that this will not happen this time. I hope that everybody is aware of the current threats," he added.

"We immediately need the NATO membership, not a Membership Action Plan," emphasized the Georgian president. "If NATO will once against show its weakness, like it did during the Bucharest Summit, the threat will remain for all NATO members. This time Georgia will suffer, but later the time will come for others, including NATO members."

Answering a question from a Lithuanian television journalist, Saakashvili categorically denied the possibility that Georgia could ever agree to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "Would you ever agree to give up Vilnius or Kaunas? Never. Sukhumi is like Kaunas to us," he said.

According to the Georgian president, it is not possible to influence democracy from the outside. Democracy has "its own immunity", but Russia does not understand this.

Saakashvili also approvingly assessed the help that Georgia has received from Lithuania, especially from Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and the country's diplomats. "The Lithuanian president has fought for us as if he was fighting for his own country. There are not many such politicians in European history," he added.

The Georgian leader also pointed out that, at the moment, the most important thing is not to accept the events taking place now, because, according to Saakashvili, Russia could calm down for a few months, but later "regroup and attack once again."

"It would be a historical mistake to allow them to go unpunished for what they did in Georgia. We must handle their aggression, tanks, arrogance and criminal politics, and evaluate the ethnic cleansing on the part of Russia," Saakashvili said.

"This is possible, the backbone of the Georgian state has not been broken, we will never surrender, we will fight for ourselves, and we need your support. We are Europe's first line of defense - if they break this line of defense, they will continue to break others," said Saakashvili.

"Europe must wake up. I believe that German Chancellor Angel Merkel has issued a good report on the situation, which the French President Nicolas Sarkozy is starting to understand finally. There is a huge difference now when compared to the previous points of view of the German and French leaders. Of course, previously there was not much understanding of the situation and there was much trust in the Russians. However, if somebody had these illusions previously, then they have vanished," Saakashvili said.
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