At General Debate Georgia calls on UN to help lessen tensions ahead

“We appeal to you today because the very institution, the United Nations, was created to protect and defend the integrity of all nations against dangers like this one, to make sure that the world would never be again a lawless ocean where big sharks can eat smaller fish without the world to react,” Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili told the 67th General Assembly on the opening day of its General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York.Fighting broke out in August 2008 between Georgian forces and South Ossetian and Abkhaz separatists and their Russian allies. South Ossetia and Abkhazia each subsequently declared their independence from Georgia, and those declarations have been recognized by Russia and several other countries.“The European Union monitoring mission has just announced that Russian forces are presently undertaking an illegal military build-up in South Ossetia,” President Saakashvili said, referring to the Russian decision to hold large scale military exercises in the North and South Caucasus on the eve of the 1 October parliamentary elections. “As we speak, they are bringing offensive weapons and troops inside our internationally recognized borders… one cannot imagine a more provocative and irresponsible approach than to mobilize military forces during this crucial moment of any nation’s democratic life,” he added, calling on the international community to “speak in a unified voice against these threats and support our sovereign democratic institutions.”In his statement, President Saakashvili also pledged to build a fully open society in his country, which was incorporated into the Russian empire in the early 19th century and regained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.Scores of the world’s heads of State and government and other high-level officials are expected to present their views and comment on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which also ends on 1 October.

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