UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE
(HELSINKI COMMISSION) HOLDS HEARING:
"RUSSIA, REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA, AND THE RETURN OF POWER POLITICS"
SEPTEMBER 10, 2008
REP. ALCEE L. HASTINGS, D-FLA., CHAIRMAN
REP. LOUISE M. SLAUGHTER, D-N.Y.
REP. MIKE MCINTYRE, D-N.C.
REP. HILDA L. SOLIS, D-CALIF.
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD, D-N.C.
REP. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, R-N.J.
REP. ROBERT B. ADERHOLT, R-ALA.
REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.
REP. JOSEPH R. PITTS, R-PENN.
SEN. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, D-MD., CO-CHAIRMAN
SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.
SEN. RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, D-WIS.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.
SEN. JOHN F. KERRY, D-MASS.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK, R-KAN.
SEN. GORDON H. SMITH, R-ORE.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, R-GA.
SEN. RICHARD BURR, R-N.C.
HON. DAVID J. KRAMER, DEPARTMENT OF STATE
HON. DAVID BOHIGIAN, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
HON. MARY BETH LONG, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
MATTHEW J. BRYZA,
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS
HON. DAVID BAKRADZE,
SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF GEORGIA
AND FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER
THE NIXON CENTER
PAUL A. GOBLE,
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS,
AZERBAIJAN DIPLOMATIC ACADEMY IN BAKU
The hearing was held at 1:35 p.m. in Room 2325 Rayburn House
Office Building, Washington, D.C., Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman,
Helsinki Commission, moderating.
CARDIN: The Helsinki Commission will come to order.
Let me first apologize for the schedule we're going to have to follow for
today's hearing. The House members are in the midst of a series of votes, and
we expect that they'll be here probably in the next 15-20 minutes.
I'm required to be on the Senate floor at 2:00. So I'm going to have to leave
here about 10 of two in order to be able to get back to the Senate floor. So
we could have a break in the action, and if that happens I will recess the
committee subject to the call of the chair at that time, which will be Chairman
Hastings when he gets back from the floor. And we do apologize for that.
But I must tell you, this is one of the most important hearings that the
Helsinki Commission is conducting this year dealing with Russia, Georgia and
the return of power politics.
I was attending a Foreign Relations Committee hearing a little bit earlier
today where we were having a hearing on NATO expansion dealing with Albania and
Croatia. Most of the questions at that hearing by senators focused on Russia.
Even though their impact on Croatia and Albania is not very great, what they
did during the Bucharest Summit, their influence in the judgment made
collectively by our NATO allies on extending invitations to Georgia and Ukraine
is well documented. And since that time, of course, with the Russian use of
military within Georgia, it represents a new chapter in the relationship
between the United States and Russia.
We obviously strongly condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia's use of
military force within Georgia. We also are concerned as Russia is gaining more
aggression internationally they are also internally moving in the wrong
direction as it relates to the liberties of the people within Russia. The
freedom of press, the freedom of expression -- all that is being moving in the
wrong direction. And one of the consequences of what has been done by Russia
and Georgia is a concern that there could be more independent thoughts within
Russia in which how Russia responded to Chechnya we are concerned we could see
a breakout of certain concerns within Russia itself.
So for all of these reasons, today's hearing becomes particularly important. I
think what we're looking for, we're looking for a way in which the United
States can constructively engage Russia. Russia is a major player
internationally. We need to constructively engage Russia. But at the same
time we've got to make it clear that we cannot allow or tolerate or condone
Russia's aggression and the use of military in the sovereign country of Georgia.
And that's going to be our challenge, and I really do look forward to our
witnesses. We have three panels that we will hear from today, starting with
the deputy assistant secretary for the State Department, Matthew Bryza. It's a
pleasure to have you back before our committee. And we would welcome your
BRYZA: Thank you, Senator. It's a pleasure to be here, and I'm so pleased to
have a chance to speak about something a lot of us feel passionately about --
that's Georgia and its freedom, its democracy, its prosperity -- as well as
what you talked about: coming up with a way to engage with Russia in a
constructive way, which we believe is possible if we handle what just happened
in Georgia appropriately.
As you were suggesting, by simply acquiescing to Russia's flouting of its
international commitments to recognize and support Georgia's territorial
integrity as expressed in numerous UN Security Council resolutions, we do not
do a service to Russia. Russia for centuries, as many of the experts sitting
behind you and in the audience know, has had a centuries-old foreign policy
quest of stabilizing its southern border, going back to Ivan the Terrible and
even before. And so, therefore, a stable Georgia that's democratic,
prosperous, successful -- even, we would argue, within NATO -- is something
that ultimately help Russia achieve one of its most enduring, most fundamental
national security objectives.
For a moment, I'd like to talk about why Georgia matters to us. I mean, we all
feel strongly about Georgia in this room. Then I'd like to address the
narrative that's been coming out of Russia with which we have some serious
differences. And finally for a couple of minutes describe where we go from
here with Georgia and in the region.
Georgia matters to us. It mattered to us in the beginning of, well, the last
decade, in the '90s, initially in a strategic way because of oil and gas
pipelines. I mean, that's how many people in Washington first drew their
attention to Georgia. And we were successful in working with the Georgian
government, with the Azerbaijani government, with the Turkish government to
develop a new generation of oil and gas pipelines that for the first time
provided a way to get Caspian oil and gas to global markets free from either
geographic chokepoints, like the Turkish Straits or the Straits of Hormuz, and
free of monopoly power.
Georgia then came to matter to us even more because of security, a second set
of interests, especially after September 11th. And we know that in the case of
Iraq, Georgia had the third largest contingent in our coalition. And then
Georgia in recent years has really elevated its strategic importance to us
because of democracy, because of a remarkable transformation that began with
President Eduard Shevardnadze -- let's be fair. He was a leader of heroic
proportions. Unfortunately, under his leadership, his tiring leadership, the
State of Georgia nearly ceased to exist. He acquiesced in an attempt by a
regional strongman, the Ajaran leader Aslan Abashidze, to steal an election,
contravening an agreement that former Secretary Baker had negotiated with the
opposition and Eduard Shevardnadze. And the Rose Revolution followed.
The Rose Revolution brought to power people that we knew well but, frankly, not
as well as we knew Eduard Shevardnadze. He was a darling of Washington, as you
recall. But the people that came into power through the Rose Revolution were
friends whose friendships we had developed through their active participation
in a whole variety of assistance programs here in the United States that aimed
to strengthen democracy and, well, by design build a cadre of young reformers
who we hoped some day would take over. Suddenly in November of 2003 they found
themselves in power. And their record on reform has been remarkable. Just
today we learned that this year the World Bank has dubbed the Georgian economy
the 15th easiest place to do business in the world -- it was 18th last year --
15th in the world. The only EU member states that are ahead of it are the
United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland, and Denmark. So Georgia's doing pretty well
on economic reform. The World Bank also in 2006 tallied Georgia the world's
On democracy there've been dramatic strides, but there are shortcomings.
Perhaps we'll talk about those in the question and answer session. And
difficulties came to the fore last November. I had the honor to come up here
and testify before you in the wake of those events in November of last year.
Georgia matters to us for these three sets of interests: energy, security
cooperation, and democracy.
What's the narrative, my second set of points? The narrative that's been
coming out of Russia is that Russia was obligated to intervene in Georgia to
protect its citizens in South Ossetia and defend its peacekeepers because
Georgia, out of the clear blue sky, started to attack Russian peacekeepers and
the city, or the town, of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia on August the 7th. We
have said -- I have said, but my superiors have said repeatedly, we urged the
Georgian government not to attack the town of Tskhinvali and not to engage the
Russian military at any cost because there was no way to prevail in such a
conflict. That's true. That's on the record.
But there's much more to the story than that. The conflict certainly did not
begin on August 7th. If we just dial back a couple of days, in the early part
of August there was a tit-for-tat exchange of explosions, on August 6th some
firing of artillery initiated by the South Ossetian side, we believe, and
rocket-propelled grenades by so-called South Ossetian peacekeepers whom we
believe were positioned behind Russian peacekeepers firing over the head of the
Russian peacekeepers at Georgian villages and Georgian peacekeepers. So
already we saw that the Russian peacekeepers were playing a role in providing a
shield, we believe, to the South Ossetians who were shooting at the Georgian
We also know that atop the chain of command in the South Ossetian de facto
government were active duty Russian officials from military and other services
in positions such as the so-called minister of defense, secretary of the
national security council, head of the security services, who were running the
security apparatus of South Ossetia. So it appears that the chain of command
of those South Ossetians firing on the Georgians before the Georgians attacked
Tskhinvali were Russian officials seconded from Moscow. So it's an
oversimplification by far to say that the Georgians attacked Tskhinvali; the
Russians intervened to protect their citizens and their peacekeepers.
We should really look at what actually happened and then recognize that for
months before that Russia had put in place a whole series of very provocative
steps in Abkhazia -- including declaration that Russia essentially would no
longer honor its commitments to support Georgia's territorial integrity but
would instead develop new, specific special relations with the separatist
leaders in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as the shooting down of an unmanned
aerial vehicle, reinforcement with combat troops of so-called Russian
peacekeepers -- a whole series of steps that escalated tension in Abkhazia in
the period from April to June. It led to a very active period of diplomacy
with our German allies taking the lead within the UN grouping, the UN friends
group that mediates the Abkhazia conflict.
And throughout that period, I hate to say, my very professional and pleasant
Russian diplomatic colleagues did not wish to engage, failed to show up to a
couple of meetings, and as the tension was really increasing in July said they
were simply unavailable due to vacations. This was in a period of heightening
tension, as we know, that culminated, unfortunately, in armed conflict in
So the narrative is much different from what we've been hearing from Russia.
It wasn't that the Georgians out of the blue provoked something. It's that the
Georgians were provoked for months, and I would even argue years -- and we can
go into that in the question period.
Finally, where do we go from here? We believe we need to pursue three sets of
One, we need to support Georgia. We need to support its economy, as is evident
in this $1 billion economic support package we're pulling together. We need to
make sure that the presence of Russian troops in the Port of Poti and along the
east-west highway does not strangle the Georgian economy or undermine
confidence in the banking sector.
We welcome news that there appears to be a new agreement, brokered by French
President Sarkozy with President Medvedev, according to which the Russians will
pull those troops, and already may be pulling out the troops from the Port of
Poti, and will pull back all of their forces by October 1st from anywhere in
Georgia beyond South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That's a step forward.
That said, it's essential that we remember that we are, well, under UN Security
Council resolutions, obligated to support Georgia's territorial integrity. So
we cannot simply acquiesce to Russian claims that it can keep, as it says, now
7,600 soldiers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That is in sharp contrast to a
whole line of Security Council resolutions until now.
Anyway, we need to support Georgia, make sure that the democratically elected
government of Georgia cannot be ousted by this Russian military operation. And
our own secretary of state had stated how she had heard from the Russian
foreign minister that, in fact, changing the government in Georgia was one of
the objectives of these military operations. We categorically reject that --
cannot oust a democratically elected government.
Secondly, we need to then blunt these objectives of Russia including the
potential ouster of this democratic government. We need to make clear that the
east-west corridor on energy, which I began talking about, continues to
function fine. Even the Russian military operations cut the flow of oil to the
Black Sea coast of Georgia. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the South
Caucasus gas pipeline continue to function throughout these military operations.
And finally, we need to shore up the neighbors of Georgia but also all the
states along Russia's periphery. Many of these countries worry that somehow
Russia has dealt a serious blow to stability in the region. They want to make
sure the United States is going to remain engaged. And we are going to remain
engaged. We are going to do all we can to strengthen our relations with
Azerbaijan, with Ukraine, with the Baltic states, with Kazakhstan. I myself am
leaving in a couple of hours to go to Armenia, to Nagorno-Karabakh and the rest
of Azerbaijan in an attempt to lay the foundation for a highly energized effort
to come up with a framework agreement to that conflict within the next couple
So that's it. I've gone, probably, over my time. I just wanted to lay out
where we hope to go from here, try to correct the narrative, and underscore the
importance the Georgia to us.
CARDIN: Well, thank you very much for your testimony.
It is extremely disturbing to hear that one of the strategies is to unseat the
government of, the democratically elected government of, Georgia. There was
almost universal support for Georgia's policies in regards to what Russia was
doing within Georgia. But the ground circumstances being what they were, it
clearly has an impact on the domestic politics within Georgia.
I know we have the speaker of the parliament that's with us today, but I would
like to get your assessment as to what impact this has had on the stability of
the current government in Georgia and the politics within the country itself.
BRYZA: Well, it appears that Georgians have rallied behind their elected
government. And there have been large-scale demonstrations, and statements
across the board from former opposition leaders, perhaps future opposition
leaders, that first and foremost it's important that this democratically
elected government of Georgia flourishes, survives, is not threatened. And we
heard statements from very senior leaders within the NATO alliance, some people
who had their own questions about the way their relations were going with the
current government of Georgia, who have echoed exactly what I said. Given what
we had heard and what transpired on the floor of a UN Security Council at the
very beginning of this conflict, it's critical that we all make clear we
support this democratically elected government of Georgia.
But I want to make clear that what we support is any democratically elected
government of Georgia -- anyone. We may be personally fond of or dislike
current leaders in Georgia -- that's not relevant. Our personal feelings are
not relevant about personal leaders in Georgia, with all due respect to the
speaker of whom everyone in this room I'm sure is quite fond. What matters is
that the Georgian people elected this leadership, and it is the Georgian people
that must determine the political future of the country. There may be early
elections. Who knows? There could be referendum. Whatever the Georgian
people decide in consultation with their elected leaders is fine by the United
States government as long as it is the Georgian people deciding the course of
their political development.
CARDIN: And I should point out that we did extend invitations to both the
Russian Federation and Georgia for representation here today. We're very
pleased that the government of Georgia made available the speaker of the
Georgian parliament for our hearing. We regret that the Russian Federation did
not accept our invitation and, therefore, we do not have a representative from
the Russian Federation that is with us today.
You believe that what Russia is doing here as a signal to Georgia is meant to
be a clear warning to some of the republics of the former Soviet Union that
Russia intends to be active -- they said they're going to protect Russians
wherever they may be. I assume that the most direct focus of that statement
would be the former republics of the Soviet Union, even though Russian
population is throughout the world including the United States. But what
impact is this having on the Ukraine? Or what impact is this having on some of
the other former republics that are developing close ties with the West?
BRYZA: Yes, it's hard to discern what was floating through the minds of those
decision makers in Moscow when they decided to invade Georgia in terms of
relations of Russia with the other states in its periphery. The impact, I
think, has been quite negative. In Ukraine, in particular, people listen very
carefully to some statements coming from the very top in Moscow suggesting that
Russia reserves the right to use force again, to, quote, "protect the rights,"
unquote, of its citizens, instant citizens -- people who are suddenly issued
passports and then are dubbed a justification for the potential use of force.
In Ukraine, of course all eyes are on Crimea. And there have been additional
statements, rumblings, coming out of high levels in Moscow that will perhaps
the decision of Nikita Khrushchev to cede Crimea to Ukraine was a wrong
We can only hope that those are no more than bluster, those sorts of
statements. Those sorts of policies hearken back to, actually, a different
century. A different century is when the invocation of protection of either
Orthodox Christians in the Balkans or Russian Citizens led to outright warfare.
So we hope these are mere examples of bluster when it comes to Ukraine.
When it comes to some of Russia's closest allies, let's say in the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization, again the impact of the recognition of the
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the invasion of Georgia has not
gone over well. If you look at the statement that was issued, the communique
issued by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes the five
Central Asian states, Russia and China, it's remarkable. It's remarkable in
what it doesn't say, which is that it does not endorse at all the recognition
by Russia of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And it's
remarkable in what it does say, which is that all states reiterate their
support for the principle of territorial integrity, which is amazing in that
every time we try to insert reference to territorial integrity at the United
Nations, Russia vehemently opposes that.
CARDIN: What good timing.
I'm going to turn the gavel over to Chairman Hastings. I thank you very much
for your testimony. Chairman Hastings is a very quick learn. He's going to
pick up immediately every word you said and is going to be ready to challenge
the statements and properly represent the commission.
BRYZA: Thank you.
CARDIN: And thank you for being here. And I apologize to the witnesses of my
requirement to be on the Senate floor.
BRYZA: Thank you.
HASTINGS: Secretary, how are you doing?
BRYZA: Hello, Mr. Chairman, very well, thank you. Thank you for a chance to
speak here today.
HASTINGS: OK. You just finished testifying, I gather.
HASTINGS: And did the senator get an opportunity to ask you some questions?
BRYZA: He sure did. Yes.
HASTINGS: OK. Well, correct me if I then ask a question that he's already
But let me begin by asking you what if any leverage do you feel that we have in
dealing with this situation, more specifically dealing with the Russian
BRYZA: Well, number one, of course our leverage is limited in a situation in
which a country with 30 times the population of its neighbor and a military
that's nearly 100 times larger than that neighbor decides to invade it. Once
you get into that situation there's, you know, I don't think any country on
earth has leverage to turn around that calculus.
But now, now we are in a different realm -- a realm in which, I think as our
president, our secretary of state has said, Russia is forced to weigh some
very, very serious costs not only to its reputation but in addition to its
economy. And we have seen already that there have been over $20 billion worth
of investment that have left Russia since this happened. There was a drop in
the stock market just last night -- 8 to 10 percent -- $200 million plus have
gone away in the stock market.
So there have been some serious economic impacts. There's been serious
reputational damage to Russia. And I think that in this case words really do
matter. I think back to my experience when I was on the ground in Georgia
during the military operations when there was serious concern that perhaps
there was about to be Russian assaults on Tbilisi. And it happened three or
four times while I was there where everybody in the city got very nervous, and
we wondered what was going to happen. And at one point, the reports of Russian
armor moving toward Tbilisi happened to coincide with President Bush's
impending press conference. And I can just say I talked to several European
journalists who were positioned up in hills above the road between the town of
Gori and Tbilisi who said that within minutes of President Bush's strong
statement finishing, they saw those armored columns turn around and head back
And so to me at the time, that was a powerful reflection of the fact that words
really do matter and that Russia really does care about its reputation. It
cares about the reputation in terms of its investment climate. And, of course,
it cares about its reputation in the world. If it didn't, Russia wouldn't want
to be a member of the G-8. And Russia wouldn't say, "We don't care about being
in the G-8" if it really didn't care. If Russia didn't care about being in the
G-8, it wouldn't mention it at all. It would just remain silent.
So we have leverage that can play itself out in a whole series of ways -- in
terms of reputation, in terms of economics. And it could go beyond that in
terms of other measures that are being considered. But for now, we don't want
to be sounding like we're wagging our finger, raising threats. We don't want
to burn bridges. We want to escalate, if need be, prudently, whatever leverage
we might employ, but always with the hope and the anticipation that at some
point Russia will recognize the costs are simply too high of continuing on this
path and that Russia will fully implement its obligations under the cease-fire
agreement and will restore its respect for Georgia's territorial integrity as
outlined in so many Security Council resolutions.
HASTINGS: In South Ossetia and in Abkhazia in the last few days, Russia has
plussed up its number of troops and indicated very strongly that they are going
to be there for a substantial period of time and then are making the efforts in
the United Nations to have recognition of these two areas. How do we assess
their actions in that regard, and is it not that they are in complete
derogation of international norms as it pertains to sovereignty when it comes
to invading a sovereign territory?
BRYZA: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Yes, we do take that position, that Russia has
made numerous commitments, again under Security Council resolutions to which it
signed on, that it will support Georgia's territorial integrity and
sovereignty. And it has blatantly contradicted those commitments. And it's
not ironic, but maybe it's just unfortunate that Russia was able to contradict
itself after just a few weeks earlier it invoked the principle of
noninterference in other countries' internal affairs in justifying...
HASTINGS: And on that point, Matt...
BRYZA: ... Zimbabwe.
HASTINGS: ... do you that they adhered to the six-point agreement to the
BRYZA: No, absolutely not, absolutely not.
HASTINGS: Tell me where they did not.
BRYZA: Sure. First of all, in point five of the agreement, there's talk of
additional security measures. And what those security measures are is
clarified in a subsequent letter from President Sarkozy and in additional
clarifications that Secretary Rice negotiated with our French ally.
Taking that body of information, what is there is a statement that Russia has
the right to carry out patrols within a few kilometers of Tskhinvali, not fix
checkpoints either along the highway or any road in Georgia, and certainly not
200 kilometers from South Ossetia out in Poti or in Sinaki. That's a blatant
violation. And we hope that this agreement that President Sarkozy negotiated
just yesterday with President Medvedev will lead to Russia pulling out its
forces from Poti. We did receive initial reports today that Russia has begun
removing its equipment from around Poti. But at the same time, as you said,
Russia has announced that it is reserving the right to bring in another 7,600
soldiers into Abkhazia and South Ossetia, they say at the request of the
leadership of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Again, to us that absolutely
violates the territorial integrity of Georgia. South Ossetia and Abkhazia
remain part of Georgia. It's irrelevant that Nicaragua, the only country in
the world besides Russia, recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia. These areas remain part of Georgia. So point five is where there's a
blatant violation of the cease-fire agreement.
In point six, as well, we believe that's violated because by recognizing the
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, we believe Russia is prejudging the
outcome of the negotiations that are foreseen in that sixth point of the
HASTINGS: Secretary Bryza, as you know, there are very few people that have
had as much input and involvement in Central Asia and Georgia specifically, the
Caucasus, if you will, than yourself. And I have great respect for the
extraordinary work in the area of diplomacy that you and Dan Fried and others
have put forward. Last week, the vice president went to Tbilisi and in the
course of his meetings offered that there would be $1 billion that would be in
the hands of the Georgian government for purposes, as I understand it, of
You know, I've had a little involvement in these areas as well. It is so
regrettable that for 10 years, really 11 years, I served on a committee dealing
with Abkhazia in the OSCE, and we were never really able to get the cooperation
that we needed to try and remedy what was described as the "frozen conflict."
I have concerns about the $1 billion, and yesterday I filed legislation that is
missing a component that I intend to amend that legislation.
And it's the question that I put to you. One, do we have the exacting
restrictions or outlines and guidelines as to how the money is to be spent?
And, second, if all of it is to be spent -- the $1 billion I'm talking about
now -- for infrastructure and reconstitution and humanitarian aid, does that
not ignore the extraordinary need for a country that has made positive steps in
democratization to make further steps and to have the needed resources in order
to be able to do that, in two areas, maybe three: judicial reform and/or the
development of an independent judiciary? I have maintained and will continue
to maintain that for as long as we promote democracy, if we do not promote
judicial independence in the various countries that we participate in, then we
are missing a major component. You and I know that before the presidential
elections that the media was under assault by the Georgian government as is
presently constituted, or at least some of this administration and more
specifically President Saakashvili and those that were associated with him --
closing the television station that you and others and I and all of this
commission railed against them actively about. So obviously there's a need to
understand that in a democracy there is a component called media that needs to
be addressed in a positive manner, and the further development of civic
society, a society where people have freedom of expression and their rights.
Well, if we spend $1 billion, shouldn't we spend some money to develop in those
areas? Otherwise, you build a road, and you still have the same inequities in
the society that are missing. And that was a long way to say that I want to
know what's going to happen with the billion dollars.
BRYZA: OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Well, first of all, as you could imagine, of course I couldn't agree with you
more about the need to keep working on Georgia and helping Georgia strengthen
its democratic institutions. Yes, independent judiciary of course is crucial
to that, as is free media, as is the emergence of a viable opposition that
will, well, contribute to an open and constructive debate on how to improve the
We will, of course we're going to continue our democracy assistance. I mean,
in FY '08 we've got $14 million budgeted. In FY '09, $15 million.
HASTINGS: That's a pittance.
BRYZA: Well, it's where we were earlier, and it's what we calculated working
together with congressional staffs as what we thought was a reasonable amount
at the time given the absorptive capacity. But of course, we're happy to look
again at it, particularly in this environment now where there's so much more
money, as you just described, coming in.
And in my testimony, in my statement I should say, I did talk about the fact
that of the three sets of interests we have in Georgia, strategic interests --
in energy and regional economic cooperation, security, and democracy --
democracy has become the most strategically relevant of the factors of them all
in the last couple of years. So of course we have to keep working on democracy.
Let me describe, though, answer the second part of your question: Where the
heck is this money going, and how did this come about? It came about in
conversations we were having when I was in Tbilisi in the midst of the military
operations with the prime minister of Georgia, Lado Gurgenidze, who expressed
real concern that it was possible the banking system could suffer a loss of
confidence and that commercial goods shippers could also lose confidence and
therefore not wish to let contracts or implement them and provide Tbilisi and
other Georgian cities with the goods they need because of the military
operations. At the time, nobody knew what was going to happen with the
military operations. And still, when you've got Russian military checkpoints,
or observation points, around the Port of Poti and along roads that are used
for commerce, there is a danger that the Georgian economy could lose the
confidence that has sustained it. We already have seen a drop, a severe drop,
in foreign direct investment. It is FDI that has sustained Georgian economic
growth, near double-digit growth. If that's gone, if the confidence is gone,
then the economy can suffer seriously, and that can lead to a non-democratic
change in government.
So, the initial, urgent request from the Georgian government was for budget
support to help them address what the Georgian government estimates is about
$400 million in immediate needs -- immediate damage, immediate steps that must
be taken to get people in shelter, to address their basic humanitarian needs,
to begin repairing some of the damage, and also to sustain confidence in the
Now, we're not doing this all on our own, right. There's $400 million in
damage to the Georgian economy. We're going to provide $250 million quickly.
So there's still, you know, almost half that's left for someone else to handle.
We hope the European Union is going to pick up that part of the tab. And then
there's the need to shore up confidence in the banking system. The IMF is
taking that on with a $750 million standby program. And we worked actively, of
course, with the government of Georgia and the IMF to set that up. So it's not
as if the U.S. government is trying to take on the task of repairing all this
damage on its own. But we wanted to make sure that we sent a clear signal to
everybody who cares about the Georgian economy that the Georgian economy is not
going to go away.
Then we also want to provide $150 million worth of assistance from OPIC to help
with mortgages so that the Georgian people can rebuild and purchase new houses
as need be. And in general what we're trying to do besides addressing
humanitarian concerns is to restore growth in the economy and then, as I said,
repair the damage.
So that's what it's all going to. We could down into even more detail if you
HASTINGS: I understand. Then let me ask you to make a submission to us that
would be more detailed.
HASTINGS: And it would be deeply appreciated. In an effort not to take up all
the time and to -- I do have one more question. I have several, but this one
is just a question of how diplomacy is undertaken and coordinated with those
who are involved. First, my compliments to Mr. Sarkozy and the EU and those
who have been involved in working to achieve some positive results. I have a
concern, and I'll share it from the perspective of one who is not a diplomat
but that from time to time, I think that I have tried, especially in this area,
to wear a bigger hat than just a policy-maker's. When I first became president
of the Parliamentary Assembly, my first act was to go to Russia and to meet
with Sergei Lavrov. Obviously, 31 countries later in two years supplied an
opportunity to meet with lots of folk and, indeed, go back and meet often with
our Russian interlocutors. When the vice president or Secretary Rice were the
two of them are recent visitors to Tbilisi and elsewhere in Georgia, they did
not go to Moscow. I think that's a mistake. I understand that there are all
sorts of channels of communication that are undertaken between parties of
interest. But as a for example, in the development of the six-point plan, Mr.
Sarkozy did go to Moscow and did go to Tbilisi. And earlier this week, he did
go to Moscow, and he did go to Tbilisi. I don't understand that missing link.
I don't suggest that you should have an answer. I just communicated to you for
purposes of carrying it back to those that are going to be involved. There are
two sides, and probably as many as 20 sides in this story, and they have to be
communicated with actively and directly. Otherwise, I think, we send bad
signals. And that is my story, and I'm sticking to it.
BRYZA: Thank you.
HASTINGS: Mr. Smith?
SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for convening this very
And thank you, Mr. Secretary, for testifying.
You know, the week before last, I went to Georgia and spent four days on the
ground there. I first want to commend our ambassador, Ambassador John Teft,
for the extraordinary job I believe that he has been doing -- has done, is
doing, and I hope will continue to do. He is a seasoned professional. It came
through in all that I found that he was doing on the ground, a very, very good
manager, and really helped to cobble together what was a crisis situation, a
very good response, and I think he represented our country extraordinarily well.
Along the way, while I was there I joined Senators Lieberman and Graham and met
with President Saakashvili and the prime minister and others. And we did hear
from them in terms of their economic needs. They provided us with a very
detailed road map to recovery. I know that they had also met with Senator
Biden as well as with Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Berman and
provided them with that same information, and the billion-dollar price tag
order of magnitude was what was discussed as well in our conversations as well
-- enough to really make the difference and to help keep that confidence in
this very important democracy and economy.
I also met with the patriarch, and I want to commend him publicly for his
bravery in going to the war-torn area and retrieving some of the dead
individuals. Though he did it as an act of bravery, I think he sent a clear
message to all that the church cares for the dispossessed, the disenfranchised,
and in this case those who had died a very cruel death.
I met with a number of the representatives. Human Rights Watch, I think, had a
very strong message, especially as it relates to cluster bombs. And you might
want to speak to that. As people flow back, they were very concerned that, you
know, the Russian cluster bombs and those red, looks like toys type of deal,
that many people could find themselves dead as they're plowing their fields or
as kids walk in the meadows. I also met with the Red Cross.
And I will say that, and this is with a little bit of regret or disappointment,
one of the things, the overriding reason why I first got on the plane and went
to Tbilisi was the fact that two young people from my congressional district
were in Chiatura and were behind the Russian lines, had tried at least once to
make their way through, were turned back at gunpoint. And this 7-year-old and
3-year-old, who were not with their parents but with the grandparents, were
very frightened. When I got over there, because of the publicity that was
generated about these two Evans girls, Sophia and Ashley, all of a sudden a
number of members of Congress and individual families contacted me with a very
similar plight of Russian children who were in harm's way.
My first stop was with the OSCE Mission and with the Red Cross, both of whom
said that they would be more than happy, and the Red Cross says "This is what
we do," to send in a van, a vehicle, with all sides aware of it, and that
includes the Russians, retrieve these children and bring them to safety. To my
shock, our consulate general did not know about this option. And I brought the
names to the Red Cross, and several of those kids now have been safely
I want to thank Eric Fournier, the French ambassador, and John Teft again for
his marvelous work in helping to facilitate this. He went and got the two kids
from my district and went through a, what should've been a two-and-a-half-hour
trip, it turned into a six-hour trip -- three hours at one particular Russian
checkpoint. Not only was he very brave, but he was very diplomatic and as the
father of the Evans girls said at a press conference in Tbilisi, "Viva la
France." He was very -- so I think it brought us closer together because it
was an act of kindness, but it was also of courage.
But the Red Cross -- my hope, Mr. Secretary, would be that we really, you know,
stay up a little bit later at night and think how we can come up with a
protocol so that when Americans are behind lines, no matter where it is --
Lebanon, and most recently, and of course this South Ossetia and Abkhazia
turmoil -- that there is an immediate go-to to the NGOs. And it seems to me
the Red Cross jumps off the page as the people jumps off the page as the people
who do this and do it extraordinarily well. So I would hope there would be a
lesson learned on that one because my trip might not have been necessary if the
Red Cross had done that, you know, that job.
But I did learn a lot. You know, it reinforced much of what I had already
thought. As Chairman Hastings and I know from Nina Berganazi, all those years
when she would raise the issue of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that this has been
a simmering, festering problem. The Russians, regrettably, acted like bullies
and went in and used brute force to drive people out and to ethnically cleanse
both of these areas.
And I couldn't agree more with the administration that territorial integrity is
extremely important. I think the real politic of it is, though, that those
lines probably are there at least on the short term because aggression
sometimes does work. But I think now we've got to work very hard, overtime, to
secure and show our solidarity with, along with our European Union partners,
with the people, with the leadership of the Georgian government. They are
unified, very, to a large extent I think, about the importance. While there
may be individual people who raise issues about accountability and all of that
-- that all happens in a democracy. But when it comes to this foreign threat,
which remains potent and real and menacing, they are in solidarity, and we need
to be in solidarity with them.
So the sooner that legislation moves, the better, I think, because we have to
send that clear signal that we stand in solidarity with Tbilisi.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HASTINGS: Thank you.
BRYZA: To just -- yes, one reaction, sure. I wasn't privy to, of course, the
conversation with our consul general. But we were, at least back in
Washington, looking at all the options possible to get access to the Evans
girls. And yes, we do, we are deeply grateful to Ambassador Fournier for that
and for all that he does. He is a tremendous ambassador and a real ally in
every sense of the word. I make it a point every time I'm in Tbilisi to spend
a few hours with him just to think things through.
But we should also underscore that actually Russia has not been allowing
international human rights organizations into South Ossetia. It's been
blocking them, blocking assistance convoys. We strongly support the United
Nations' and the secretary general's push for there to be a humanitarian
investigation as well as an investigation of how the conflict started. But
people need to get into South Ossetia to deliver humanitarian assistance, to
assess what has happened, to assess the cluster bomb reports that Human Rights
Watch put out. The Georgian government has also conceded that it used cluster
bombs, but only against military targets near the Roki Tunnel. We hope that
nobody ever uses cluster munitions, but it's certain testimony to the Georgian
government that it came out and came clean that in a military situation it used
these munitions on the military situation.
And I'd also like to laud the efforts of Human Rights Watch in general. They
somehow got their people in and were able to counter, again, the absolutely
untrue narrative coming out of Moscow that genocide was committed by the
Georgian government, that 2,000 South Ossetians were killed or murdered. As
Human Rights Watch found, during the period of the hostilities, they could
identify 44 people that were killed rather than 2,000. And now even
independent Russian organizations say it could've been a bit over a hundred.
And also Human Rights Watch has documented that the damage inflicted on
Tskhinvali by the Georgian government was considerably less than the damage
inflicted on the neighboring villages of Ergneti and Tamarasheni, the Georgian
villages, by Russian military operations.
I'm not here to excuse the Georgian military operations against civilians in
Tskhinvali. We, again, as I said earlier, we urged the Georgian government not
to do that. But Georgia found itself in a very difficult situation believing,
it appears, that Russian forces had crossed into South Ossetia through the Roki
Tunnel, believing that, and sensing that despite a cease-fire South Ossetians
continued artillery fire, heavy artillery fire on Georgian positions, and the
Georgian government thought they were about to lose these villages. Again, we
urged the Georgian government not to engage in a military conflict. The
Russians claimed, well, they were simply intervening to save these citizens
that they had generated through passport issuances and that the Georgians had
leveled Tskhinvali. And as Human Rights Watch has shown, that isn't exactly
SMITH: Just one quick follow-up. Your assessment of the OSCE Mission -- I was
very impressed with Steve Young, the senior military, and Ambassador Hakala
who's -- I mean, they were professional, and they were on the job, and they
have 20 and upwards of 100 people who will be deployed as monitors. They
recently got in, I saw, on September 4th and did some monitoring. How would
you assess their mission -- whether or not it's enough people, do they have
access? And secondly, our mission of assessment is there, I believe, on the
ground now. How soon before we get some at least preliminary reports of what
the needs are for the Georgian military as well as the humanitarian crisis, too?
BRYZA: Thank you. I have only the highest possible regard for Ambassador
Hakala and her team, Steve Young and the others. They showed foresight, the
wisdom and bravery during the military operations when Ambassador Hakala had
Steve and others out on the road to Gori while tanks were bearing down on them
to figure out what's going on, to see whether we could get access in the
international community to these areas of South Ossetia for humanitarian
purposes. And then a week ago, a week-and-a-half ago, we're on the scene in
the village of Akhalgori in the southeastern corner of South Ossetia, where
there was a high degree of tension, and I would credit the OSCE directly for
helping to reduce the level of tension and therefore potentially avoiding
further armed conflict.
Also, we should laud the efforts of the chairman-in-office of the OSCE, Foreign
Minister Finland Stubb, a fellow countryman of Ambassador Hakala, who also has
shown strong leadership, particularly in fielding quickly an additional 20 OSCE
observers, which will then escalate up to a full hundred. We believe that 100
OSCE observers coupled with the 200 or so EU observers is plenty to make clear
that the point, by the way we talked about with the chairman before, point
number five in the cease-fire agreement that affords Russians additional
security measures, is no longer valid because there is an international
mechanism in place with these OSCE observers augmented by the EU observers. So
that they're enough.
The problem is that Russia is refusing -- getting back to your point, initial
one -- refusing to allow any additional OSCE observers entrance into South
Ossetia or Abkhazia. We categorically reject that and will continue to fight
hard to make sure we can get people in to find out what happened but to deter
people from taking any further actions that violate human rights.
Just today, by the way, there was a shooting of a Georgian policeman, it looks
like by, potentially, by a South Ossetian. We hold the Russian government
responsible. If Russia is occupying these areas, it must fulfill the
obligations of an occupier, and that means law and order and preventing human
rights violations. So we hold Russia responsible for that.
Our assessment mission, we have EUCOM assessment team on the ground now, and we
hope that maybe by the middle of October they have will completed the
assessment. It's a pretty thoroughgoing assessment, and they have to look some
tough choices that the Georgian military itself will have to make about whether
it wants to focus on homeland defense and/or whether it still wishes to
contribute to more expeditionary ventures, I mean, like contributing to the
coalition in Iraq or Kosovo or Afghanistan.
SMITH: And, again, will you please convey to John Teft how grateful I and
others -- our delegation was very impressed with the professionalism and his
leadership. He was excellent.
BRYZA: Thank you. Few things I could hear that make me happier than that. He
is one of the best ambassadors I've ever experienced in any country. And he's
just such a human. And there were some dark moments when we were together as
we heard that the Georgian line had broken outside Gori, and we thought that
the tanks were rolling toward Tbilisi. And besides my wife, there's nobody
else I would've rather had been with in that situation because it was -- we
were just. He was thinking clearly, totally calm. We were talking about the
Chicago Bears, my team, and his Green Bay Packers. And, well, I guess he made
the right decisions because our team was kept safe. And then we got an
announcement that the military operation was over. We all went home, and we
HASTINGS: Mr. Secretary, just a recommendation and to look back in trying to
determine what happened, there are obviously disagreements. And it would seem
to me that an independent analysis would help the reconciliation that's going
to be needed. And I recommend, among other things, that OSCE be given a role
in that. And the reason that I do is very simple: There are opportunities for
discussions between Russia and Georgia and those who are parties that could
assist in various of the structures of the OSCE including the Parliamentary
Assembly. And therefore I would hope that such a role is envisioned for the
I do want to get to the other panels. But I'd be terribly remiss if I did not
ask you at least: How do you see the impact of this crisis on other former
states? And I guess I specifically raise Ukraine as a concern. The governing
coalition has already felt some of the fallout. And just give me a snap
reaction to that, if you would.
BRYZA: Sure. I agree that there has been a negative impact on political
stability -- if there ever was a lot of stability in Ukrainian politics --
unfortunately, as a result of this. The statements that came out of senior
levels of Moscow in recent weeks are chilling in that Russia reserves the right
to use force if necessary to protect its citizens or passport holders in
Ukraine with a particular focus on Crimea. That's simply unacceptable. That
is behavior that is not consistent with 21st century norms or with membership
in the institutions of the 21st century, as Secretary Rice has said so many
times. So we have to make clear we absolutely stand with Ukraine --
completely, absolutely, unabashedly support its territorial integrity. By the
way, just as the international community stood with Russia all of these years
as it invoked the right to sustain its territorial integrity within the case of
Chechnya; although we condemned the way Russia did that. But the international
community stood with Russia.
And I just wanted to make one point about the resolution in Security Council a
couple of weeks ago on Zimbabwe. Russia vetoed it citing noninterference in
internal affairs of foreign countries, and a couple weeks later invaded its
neighbor. So that is a sharp contradiction, and we can't simply allow that.
HASTINGS: Well, I do have a series of questions, and I'd normally do this
perfunctorily. But because of the heightened importance of matters and the
fact that I, and I'm sure the International Relations Committee and other
members of Congress are going to be tooling our legislation supplemental to the
administration's ideas in this matter, I'd appreciate it if I could get as
early a response from your good offices as I can.
BRYZA: Of course. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HASTINGS: All right.
I'd like now to call the Honorable David Bakradze, the speaker of the
Parliament of Georgia and former foreign minister. And, sir, I'm more than
delighted that you are here. And I never anticipated that we would have an
opportunity -- we've met before on a couple of occasions, but I didn't think we
would have this kind of meeting.
The speaker's biography is on the table available to all of the persons that
are here. And I won't go into detail of it for the reason that I do want to
get on to others as well. But, sir, you have the floor.
BAKRADZE: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's my pleasure and
honor to be here. So I'll try to be brief in my presentation, and then I'm
looking forward for the series of questions which will help me to bring my case
and clarify the issues which you think are interesting and important.
So the topic of this presentation is return of power politics. And I think
it's quite precise description of what's happening and what happened in
Georgia. And I believe that what happened in Georgia is much more important
than fate of one small country or fate of two tiny separatist enclaves because
it challenges the basic principles which today constitute the foundation of
international security. So let me elaborate briefly how we see return of power
politics based on what happened in Georgia.
So, A: What Russians did in Georgia directly contradicts to the principle of
inviolability of borders. And this is the key principle which constitutes
today the cornerstone for European security. This is the key principle
recognized by Helsinki Final Act. This is the principle on which OSC as an
organization is based. And by using military force against Georgia and by
eventually recognizing two Georgian regimes, Russians tried to change Georgian
border by use of force. That is major development since the post-cold war
period because this is the first time when Russians openly challenge
post-Soviet borders by use of force. I mean, we had many cases in the past
when Russian rhetoric was focused on border changes, Russians had territorial
disputes with Baltic countries, and as Secretary Bryza mentioned, Russian
statement concerning Ukraine and possibility of revising borders with Ukraine.
I mean, we had other examples. But it is the first case since the dissolution
of Soviet Union when Russians actually physically change borders by use of
military force. And this is something which is a significant challenge not
only for my country, which is immediate victim of that action, but for the
entire international community thinking that inviolability of borders is a key
principle on which the security rests.
Now, with this small accident, let me turn to another issue, which is energy.
And this is also...
... and which is also very important. Because what happens, and most of you
know the geography, that Georgia is the only alternative route for Caspian and
Central Asian gas and oil resources to Europe. And by controlling Georgia,
actually Russia controls the bottleneck, and by that completely isolates
Azerbaijan, isolates Central Asian states, and leaves no alternative ways of
delivery of Caspian and Central Asian resources to Europe, which means that
Russia will significantly strengthen its energy monopoly over European energy
resources. So energy is the second very important reason why we believe that
what is at stake is more important than just, you know, again, physical control
of these two small regions.
The third reason, and very fundamental reason in our view, is human rights.
Because what happened a few days ago in Georgia was actually an ethnic
cleansing -- ethnic cleansing confirmed by all observers who were able to reach
the area. And I agree with Undersecretary Bryza who mentioned Human Rights
Watch, and that was the organization that confirmed the ethnic cleansing in
Georgian villages in South Ossetia, confirmed the massive looting of Georgian
villages, confirmed the massive execution of male population and massive rape
of female population and all the terrible facts happening on the ground. So
that's ethnic cleansing.
And sometimes people think about Kosovo as a precedent for (inaudible) in South
Ossetia, and I attended yesterday a number of hearings where Kosovo was
mentioned. So in my vision the difference is very simple but very important.
In Kosovo, there was international intervention which stopped ethnic cleansing.
In Abkhazia, the reason for ethnic cleansing was Russian intervention. And
this makes these two cases absolutely different. And let me be very clear:
What happened in South Ossetia two weeks ago was ongoing ethnic cleansing which
changed the balance of population. What happened in Abkhazia in 1993, 16 or 15
years ago, was then ethnic cleansing. And you know better than anybody else,
sir, from OSC that this is the ethnic cleansing confirmed by OSC. Three
summits of OSC in Istanbul, in Lisbon, and in Budapest confirmed ethnic
cleansing. And those are summit documents having signature of then Russian
President Boris Yeltsin, then U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as other 53
presidents of OSC member countries.
So we have confirmed cases of ethnic cleansing conducted in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia. So the scheme is that in Abkhazia, for example, from 75 of 80 percent
of population has been expelled from their houses -- based on ethnicity, based
on the fact that they were loyal to Tbilisi government, based on the fact that
they wanted to be part of the Georgian state. So one expels 80 percent of
population under the foreign military support from the (inaudible) from homes.
Then this same foreign country distributes its own passports, and then the
citizens of that foreign country -- actually foreign citizens -- make a
decision whether to be part of that state or not. I mean, it's very simple but
very effective but very brutal in the human scheme.
How can Russian citizens make a decision to be part of Georgia or not after
they expelled 80 percent of local population who was in favor of Georgia and in
favor of being part of Georgia? So this is something very, very different from
Kosovo, from any other case of self-determination. And by recognizing Abkhazia
and South Ossetia what Russia did, Russians recognized and accepted results of
ethnic cleansing. And by that, Russia legitimized ethnic cleansing as a way of
self-determination. And that is something very dangerous and very bad.
And I think this human rights issue, the fundamental human rights issue that
ethnic cleansing cannot be seen as a legitimate tool of self-determination of
any people is at stake now. And, I mean, by not following Russia's example,
international community should confirm that independence cannot be based on
ethnic cleansing, which is one of the most terrible human rights violations.
Another reason and another case what is at stake and why we believe that it's
return of power politics is that it's return of sphere of influence and buffer
zone policies. And the biggest lesson learned by Europe after the Second World
War was this new concept of security, which is indivisible and where security
of small countries matters exactly as much as security of big countries.
And by doing so, by invading, by occupying Georgia, by change borders of
Georgia by use of force, actually Russians bring back the policy of sphere of
influence because they openly claim "This is our area of our national
interest." Because we have their Russian citizens, because we have historic
ties, because Russian Empire is present in this region, was present in this
region for last two hundred years, this is our area of influence, so we can do
whatever we want in our area of influence. And if this concept of areas of
interest and concept of buffer zones and buffer states come back to European
security, that will be substantial undermining of European security because it
will bring Europe back to 19th century or beginning of 20th century with all
the instabilities which were caused that time by this concept.
And last thing which we think is at stake and is more important than Georgia, I
mean, is Russia itself and what kind of Russia we have, international community
has, as a partner. Absolutely, Russia is important partner. Russia is
important in terms of political cooperation, in terms of economic cooperation,
in terms of energy cooperation.
So the question is: Is it the right Russia which we are having now as a
partner? And is Russia which made a decision to send tanks to the soil of the
neighboring country right partner for Europe or for United States. So what can
be the basement of American-Russian cooperation? What kind of values, what
kind of interest, this cooperation can be based if Russian policy develops in a
way or deteriorates in a way it does? I mean, how can Russia able to make a
decision to send tanks and troops to the neighboring country be a reliable
partner for United States or for Europe?
So this is a fundamental question. How can Russia which signs agreements that
it withdrawals from Georgia -- and I refer to the six-point agreement -- and
confirms that, you know, the presidential signature is there and they will
implement this, and it still is not implemented? It was signed Thursday, 29
days ago, and still it is not implemented. How can Russia which does not
respect signature of its own president, which does not respect its own
commitment, which does not respect international law, how can such Russia be a
reliable partner for United States or for anybody else?
So it's about Russia, and it's about what kind of developments will take place
in Russia tomorrow. Because if there is no price for what happened in Georgia,
this will clearly encourage this folkish thinking in Russia, this thinking that
the bullying policy is successful, and this thinking that Russia is too
important to pay price for anything which they do. And in such case, price
tomorrow will be much higher than the price today.
So we believe that this is another good reason why this issue should be
addressed very carefully and based on the long term consideration. So we're
talking about set of measures which I believe, I mean, are important. So it's
about borders and European security. It's about human rights. It's about
energy. It's about major geopolitical developments in Europe. And it's about
Russia as a future partner and whether Russia can be a future partner. So it's
a set of very important issues which we believe make this case an exceptional
case. It's the end of the Cold War and the case which can, like 9/11, change
the entire geopolitics in the upcoming years.
So we have all the signs, unfortunately, that the power politics at least from
the side of Russians is back. So the issue is how to respond, how to answer,
and how to go forward. But I guess that will be part of your questions as well
as how we started and, I mean, obviously you may have some of the same
questions which you had to Undersecretary Bryza to me, so I stand ready to
answer any questions in good faith and to the knowledge I have. And I thank
you very much for this opportunity again.
HASTINGS: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for being here and for your
I'm going to go straight to the very hard question, and it is that there have
been a substantial number of articles in the press on the crisis, and in many
of those articles U.S. officials claim they've consistently warned Tbilisi not
to launch a military campaign against South Ossetia. Why, then, did President
Saakashvili do precisely what it is said that the U.S. had warned specifically
BAKRADZE: Thanks. I regret that Matt Bryza left already the room here. I
think he could confirm, and I'm talking on the record now. So it's a very
important clarification. We have been warned many times, and I confirm that,
not to get entrapped by Russian provocations, not to respond to Russian
provocations, and to be very, very careful in our policy planning. And that's
absolutely true, and I confirm. But to my knowledge, at none of the meetings
was I presented with this (inaudible) specific case of Georgia in attacks
against South Ossetia or Tskhinvali because there was no such plan and no such
You know, Mr. Chairman, that we had this plan for South Ossetia. Three years
ago it was endorsed by OSC. Only reason why it was not implemented was
Russia's resistance, then the fact that Russians blocked the (inaudible) on the
ground. I was myself minister for conflict resolution for seven months. And
I'm still proud that I was one of the officers of the new peace policy in South
Ossetia that was policy of reconciliation, policy of investments.
And you know what happened in South Ossetia: this tiny region was divided in
two parts. About half was controlled by Moscow-backed parties, half was
controlled by local administration which was loyal to Tbilisi. And we heavily
invested in that half. And we invested not in weapons. We invested in
building schools. We invested in building hospitals. We invested in building
discos, swimming pools, and amusement parks exactly to show to population on
the other side that life is not about war, life is not about fight, and life is
about much better things than (inaudible) and trenches.
So our policy was policy of economic attraction and economic reintegration, and
as one of the authors of that policy I'm still proud. And I do believe that we
were very, very close to resolution, peaceful resolution of conflict in South
Ossetia because we had all the signs of heavy erosion of the regime in
Tskhinvali. And that's one of the reasons why Russians changed entire
leadership in South Ossetia, in Tskhinvali and instead of local Ossetian
officials, they brought Russian high-ranking officers. And as I confirmed
words of Matthew Bryza, that all high-ranking security officials in Tskhinvali
were acting high-level Russian security and military officials.
So we had all the signs of peaceful resolution of conflict and having all that
-- I apologize for this long prehistory -- having all that in place, we had
never planned any kind of military action against South Ossetia. That's true.
I confirm that. And I can tell you that there was no meeting in my memory and
in my knowledge where we specifically discussed with anybody from United States
administration the issue of possible Georgian military action against
It's absolutely right that we have been warned many times not to respond to
provocation. And we did it. And we have very good record of not responding to
provocations, especially starting from March this year when we had non-stop
series of provocations, sequence of provocations, from side of Russia both in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
But unfortunately what happened on August 7 was no longer a provocation. It
was already an action. Because when Russian military jet intrudes the Georgian
airspace, it's a provocation, and government may respond or may not respond.
But when Georgian villages, Georgian civilian population, are under heavy
artillery bombardment, are under heavy artillery barrage and there are civilian
casualties in place, this is no longer a provocation. This is already and
action which needs to be addressed by government. And I do believe that no
democratically elected government can sit and wait until there are casualties
in the civilian population when the civilian population is under artillery
So this is, I mean, now different point, but just to show, just to explain you
that we never had the specific discussion because we never had a plan to attack
South Ossetia. And I think the timing itself confirms. This was the timing
7th of August when big part of Georgian leadership was on vacation, and
president himself had his plane ready to depart for Beijing, and he has to
cancel this trip 20 minutes before it was canceled. So I think this is a small
detail, but again it shows that we had no plans whatsoever to start military
action that day or any other day against South Ossetia.
HASTINGS: But did you start military action?
BAKRADZE: Pardon me?
HASTINGS: Did you start military action?
BAKRADZE: What happened, Mr. Chairman, was that, I mean -- and I agree, I do
agree, with Matthew Bryza who described the sequence of events on the ground.
So, I mean, we should look into the concrete pretext of events but not single
out any particular event out of this chain. And that's actually what Russians
are trying to do at the moment, the Russian propaganda machine. Because what
they are trying to do, they are trying to say that, while for example at 11
a.m. Georgians did something and that was beginning of war. But they fail to
mention what happened at 10:55 a.m. or 11:05 a.m. And that's the sequence
which shows. And it comes how one defines the beginning of military action.
I told you that our villages have been under heavy artillery barrage. And that
was very dangerous because of the civilian population and because of possibly
huge civilian casualties which we might have on the ground. Still, the same
morning, we sent our minister for conflict resolution to Tskhinvali with the
objective to negotiate with Ossetians and to stop somehow the fire. But he
arrived to Tskhinvali, he was not met by any South Ossetian official. The only
person whom he met was commander of Russian peacekeepers, General Kulakhmetov.
And General Kulakhmetov confirmed to our minister that Ossetians are acting on
their own will, and the Russian peacekeepers are not able to control what's
happening on the ground. He had to left.
We asked Russian special envoy, Mr. Popov, Ambassador Popov, to go to
Tskhinvali and to communicate and to talk to local Tskhinvali officials to stop
this fire. And Popov failed to go there, justifying this failure that his car
was broken and he was not able to go physically there. President Saakashvili
spoke with Finnish foreign minister and asked to send his special envoy as soon
as possible so that he also goes to Tskhinvali and negotiates to stop this
fire. Because, again, our civilian villages, peaceful villages, were under
artillery fire, and that was something requiring urgent response.
And when, I mean, this diplomacy failed during the daytime of August the 7th,
in the evening President Saakashvili declared unilateral cease-fire. And his
hope was that this unilateral cease-fire would cause Ossetians to stop firing
as well. But it did not happen. And in the evening, when Ossetians were
Tskhinvali (inaudible) -- I apologize for using Ossetians; I will come back to
It's not about Georgian and Ossetian. It's political conflict; it's not ethnic
conflict. So when Tskhinvali leaders started more intensive, and this
bombardment turned into the carpet bombardment of Georgian villages, that is
confirmed. And I again confirm words of Matthew Bryza who said that Human
Rights Watch confirmed that Georgian villages near Tskhinvali are heavily
damaged by this bombardment. So when this bombardment started to be carpet
bombardment, so-called indiscriminate bombardment of population, we had to
take, government had to take a decision to fire back in order back to stop this
But it would still be a local skirmish unless one thing which happened on the
ground, that which influenced every sort of development and that was Russian
military call on of about 150 tanks and about 2,000 personnel, troops, entering
through territorial Georgia through the Roki Tunnel. And we have evidences of
that. Part of that evidence is two days ago we made available to, at this
level, to ambassadors accredited to Georgia and we're thinking whether to make
this evidence public or not. So at this point, this is still not public, but I
can just mention that we have radio interceptions confirming Russian troops
entering Georgian territory in the evening of August the 7th. And this was the
turning point. And plus to that, of course, I mean, we have the fact of their
physical entry to Georgia. And this was the point.
I have a question whether massive bombardment, indiscriminative bombardment of
civilian population, can be seen as a beginning of war or not. And if it is
not beginning of war, why response to that bombardment in order to stop it
should be seen as a beginning of war. I have a question whether intrusion into
the territory of the neighboring country violating the recognized border and
sending 150 tanks and 2,000 troops to the neighboring country, is this a
beginning of war? Or, if it is not, why then the following reallocation of
Georgian troops is a beginning of war?
So it's a very, very delicate question how one defines what happened and what
was the initial point of the war. And in our understanding, the immediate
reason was massive bombardment of Georgian villages and the starting point of
war because otherwise I still think we could somehow localize the skirmish.
But the immediate point when the war started was the fact when Russian troops
entered Roki Tunnel and entered territory of Georgia. That was the point when
government of Georgia was forced to take a decision to about the troop
allocation. So that's the concrete pretext of these August 7 events.
HASTINGS: Well, it sounds, among other things, that there was a bit of
ingenuity on behalf of the Russians, and your government kind of fell into that
trap. And there are questions that still remain, and I understand that.
Regrettably, the Russian Embassy, who was in fact invited to participate in
today's hearing, chose not to. I would urge upon them that I think that's a
mistake. As a former judge, I learned in many actions to try and listen to all
sides. And hearing one side skews the process, and it gives the impression
that someone is on one or the other side.
I would hope because of the extraordinary cultural and historic aspects that
exist between Georgia and Russia that whatever the reason was for this
particular conflict would be mediated toward positive resolutions in the
interests of both countries. And I find it all over the world astounding that
people that know each other very well -- for example, Mr. Putin's mother lives
in Georgia, you know. And Sergei Lavrov is from the Armenian section of
Georgia. And I could go on and on and on. When I'm in Moscow, I don't drink
wine but I drink Crouvasier, but I see Georgian wine when I'm in Moscow. I see
Russian food when I'm in Georgia. And so somehow or another cousins and
brothers and sisters have to stop fighting. I don't know how we accomplish
I also note that the realities on the ground have changed. And it would be
very difficult. In a totally separate but similar situation, yesterday I
participated in a hearing dealing with Iraqi refugees. And in essence what has
happened is Sunnis have been driven from certain areas and replaced by Shiite.
The big question is in reintegrating them -- and I understand that President
Saakashvili's goal is still reintegration of South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- if
that is true, then the question is: Who wants to be the first person that was
removed to return? And that was the question that was put to me yesterday:
What Sunni is going to show up in Anbar and say, "I'm back now"? You know,
it's kind of difficult, the situation that we're in. I won't go further
because the ranking member has questions, and we have two other panelists and
I'd like to get to them as well.
SMITH: Speaker Bakradze, thank you very much for being here, for your
wonderful testimony. I think it's incisive and really gives us, I think, the
lay of the land from your government's perspective, which we need to hear.
You know, you mentioned a couple of things with regards to massive rapes. Is
that quantifiable as to how many women were abused in that way, and what has
happened to those women?
BAKRADZE: I'm afraid I'm not able to give you exact figures now. And this is
something which still needs to be verified and investigated, and we are very
open. So we invited, and we invite all, I mean, every interested human rights
organization to come and to go to those refugees and to check because, I mean,
it's difficult because, you understand, it's a delicate issue. Not everybody
may be willing to describe and to talk about this issue. So these ladies need
very careful approach and very balanced approach. And, I mean, if any
international human rights organizations are willing to help us in that, are
willing to help our ministry of health and social care in that, we are very
open, and we ask them to come. But at this point I'm not able to give you
What we know, we know evidence is from eyewitnesses that the ethnic cleansing
was conducted in so-called Balkan, but by so-called Balkan model, when we know
these irregulars or paramilitaries enter the village, and they loot the
village. They torch houses. They separate male and female population. They
take male population out of the village, and then some of them are beaten, some
of them are executed, some of them are left somewhere in the forest, and the
female population, children, I mean, women, elder people are subject to, I
mean, brutal physical action including also the rape. So that that was the
scheme which was used in all Georgian villages in South Ossetia that we know
from Human Rights Watch, that we know from other eyewitnesses, that we know
from people who went through themselves. But so far I cannot give you the
quantitative assessment of victims.
SMITH: In the meeting I had with the Deputy Minister of Interior Golodsta
(ph), she mentioned that there were at least (inaudible) stories of women being
taken off buses. And there was one in particular that I guess made the
television news while I was there. Have any of those women been recovered,
brought back to safety? And secondly, is there any suggestion that anyone was
trafficked? As the irregulars and the Russians came in, were people -- we saw
that during the Kosovo crisis, we saw throughout the Balkan Wars that
exploiters found opportunity to steal away women and to put them into human
trafficking and forced prostitution.
BAKRADZE: We still have missing persons, so I cannot confirm whether these
missing persons are victims of trafficking or they have been executed or they
are just hidden somewhere and will show up later. So we have missing people,
yet so far I cannot give you exact numbers. So when we find everybody,
identify everybody, then we will be able to give you more detailed information.
The problem is that so far we are still not allowed to have any access to
Georgian villages, remaining Georgian villages in South Ossetia, and that
includes also possibly the remaining population being in villages or outside
villages in the forests of South Ossetia. And we still have very, very limited
access -- almost no access -- even to those villages which are outside South
Ossetia but are within the so-called Russian buffer zone, or security zone, as
Russians describe, so which means beyond the Russian fixed checkpoint. And
that is completely illegal, and I again agree with Matthew Bryza on that, that
is completely illegal but that is the de facto reality, and we do not have
access beyond checkpoints. And we have absolutely no access to South Ossetia
itself to check the situation on the ground.
What we know we know from people in mostly international human rights
organizations or, for example, Council of Europe observers who are able to take
this trip. So we know it from them, and we know it from people who managed to
escape from there. But we still need to go and make evidences ourselves, which
we are not able to do at the moment.
SMITH: Are there any preliminary estimates, and perhaps you could provide this
for the record, as to how many people died, how many have been wounded, and how
much property damage really has been imposed?
BAKRADZE: As of casualties, we know exactly about casualties on the side of
Georgian militaries and law enforcement because besides militaries, our law
enforcement structures, our police was subject target for very intensive
attacks. And after the conflict when we still had Russian planes, I mean,
bombarding Georgian territories. I mean, one of their targets was usually
police stations or police patrols on the roads. And I think that was done on
intention, and I have every reason to believe that it was done in order to
break down law and order in the country because attacking police can lead to
nothing else but the breakdown of law and order and the establishment of chaos
in the country. So police was under attack as well as military.
So we have casualties among militaries as casualties among police. All in all,
that's about 160 militaries and policemen together. As of civilian population,
as I said we are still missing people and we still cannot identify what happens
with those who we are missing. Right now we have confirmed deaths of up to
about 70 people, civilians. But, again, more than that is considered as
missing population, and we still don't have information on them.
SMITH: Thank you. With regards to the internally displaced persons, when I
BAKRADZE: I apologize. As of economic damage, again, since we cannot access
the area we may have only very preliminary estimations, and that was partly
what Undersecretary Bryza gave you. But what we know that Georgian villages in
South Ossetia are completely destroyed using the bulldozers and technical
equipment. So everything is destroyed there.
SMITH: Now, with regard to the IDPs, that number has fallen significantly --
and it was over 100,000 when I was there. What are they returning to? And how
are the ones -- what's it, over 60,000 still, I think you had indicated earlier
-- how are they faring? Is the humanitarian aid getting to them? And secondly
on that question, we know when people are put to flight that a lot of the
individuals, especially the children, suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.
Are there grief counselors or people who can help them cope with, you know, the
SMITH: ... tanks coming down the street?
BAKRADZE: Absolutely. We had 118,000 registered IDPs. I say registers
because we had actually we had even more than that. Now this number is down.
It's about 78,000 at the moment, and the rest have returned. Because there are
three different categories of IDPs. One, people from Gori and adjacent
Georgian towns and villages. And once the Russian occupation of Gori and
adjacent villages was over, is over, I mean, these people were able gradually
to start return back. Because immediately once Russians are out, our police is
in, and state is back with its basic functions with supplies, with police, with
law and order. So immediately we have been able to start return of our IDPs
from those areas, Georgian villages which are in the rest of Georgia, not in or
in the vicinity of conflict zones. So majority of these people are already
The second category of IDPs is Georgian villages located between Gori and
Tskhinvali. Geographically this is southern of Tskhinvali and northern of Gori
where there is this so-called security buffer zone of Russian military forces,
and the people there still cannot return. But we expect that at least this
time Russians will respect their commitment. And during President Sarkozy's
trip to Moscow two days ago, again it was a very clear commitment from Russia
that they will withdraw this so-called checkpoint and the security zone. So, I
mean, once Russians withdraw from this so-called buffer zone, then we expect
that we will be able to bring people back to this area.
And the third category of IDPs is IDPs from South Ossetia itself. Those are
people from mixed villages, from Georgian villages, and this is the most
painful and vulnerable category because unless there is a real perspective of
conflict resolution, unless this international remediated process of IDP return
starts, these people will not be able to return back because they don't have
security guarantees, they have no property, they have no security, they have no
conditions. So we can take care of people from Georgian, I mean, for from the
rest of Georgia. We will take care of those people from the so-called security
buffer zone once Russians are out. But as of the IDPs from the conflict zone
itself, there we will need an international directive, international
engagement, and the beginning of the genuine process of conflict resolution
which will include the return of IDPs.
SMITH: I have other questions, but I'll just reduce it to: Human Rights
Council, have they done anything to investigate, to send investigators? And we
know how the United States has responded, many of our European allies, how have
other countries, particularly in Latin America, Africa, Asia, responded to this
BAKRADZE: Well, we are very open for investigation. We offered European Union
to set up a special group or commission which will look into all the details
and investigate happenings including, of course, the human rights aspect, which
is one of the key components for us.
SMITH: I was asking especially about the Human Rights Council at the UN, which
has had a special...
BAKRADZE: I had a meeting two days ago. I was in New York. I met UN
secretary general, and one of the topics of our discussion was having UN
mission to Georgia, special fact-finding mission, which would include
humanitarian and human rights components to investigate to check what happened
on ground. So I hope that in the near future we will have this special UN team
arriving verifying the facts on the ground. Plus to that, we asked for debates
within the UN General Assembly. We asked for debates in Council of Europe. We
asked for debates in OSC Parliamentary Assembly and NATO Parliamentary
Assembly. So we are very open for these debates.
This is coming back to your comment, Mr. Chairman. We are very open for these
debates. Truth is on our side, so we are not afraid. And I really regret that
I do not have my Russian counterparts here today because I believe truth speaks
for itself. And I would really love to have Russian counterparts here to
listen to them how they explain what happened. So we are very open for
debates. We are very open for any kind of fact-finding mission and
investigation, including the one from UN. And I got the promise from UN
secretary general that this mission will take place.
As of the reaction of the rest of the world, well, I met -- I had 17 meetings
in UN during one day. And mostly I met countries of Latin America, Africa, and
Asia, and I think they understand. At least those whom I met understand that
it's not about making choice between Russia and Georgia, because in such case
we would be in a very difficult situation. Russia is very important partner.
For some countries, Russia is important as a trade partner. For some countries
Russia is important as a security provider. For others there are different
reasons. We are a small country -- we can never compete.
But what is good is they all understand it's not about making choice for Russia
or for Georgia. It's about making choice for principles. And the principles
which I said that there should be no forceful change of borders. There should
be no ethnic cleansing as an instrument to self-determination.
These principles are very important to many, many countries across the globe,
because there are many countries having territorial disputes with their
neighbors. There are many countries having separatist enclaves or having
ethnic minorities on their territory. And if today we all allow a precedent
that a big country can use force and change borders of the neighboring country,
we are the first victims, but there may be a lot of countries in many different
of the world troubled by that.
As well as if we allow ethnic cleansing to be recognized as a legitimate way to
self-determination, I expect that many countries will be in trouble after that.
So what unites these countries -- and despite Russia's very active diplomacy
and active pressure, there is still only one country, Nicaragua, which says it
will recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- is, I think, the understanding
that it's not about Russia or Georgia.
It's about the basic principles on which the international law and order rest
today. So I hope that with this understanding we will be able to show to
Russia how far it went to isolating itself from the world community -- not only
from United States or European Union, but even isolating itself from its
traditional allies. And Matthew Bryza mentioned Central Asian countries,
mentioned Shanghai Organization, and I think that was a very good example of
how far Russia went in isolating itself even from its most important and
traditionally loyal allies.
HASTINGS: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. There will be a robust debate,
I'm sure, in Toronto next week during the meeting of the Parliamentary
Assembly. And a recommendation to you: After the attack on the United States
on September 11th in 2001, the U.S. government formed a commission to
investigate those tragic events, and the commission members included very
distinguished figures from the major parties, and I would urge also the
possible participation of non-partisan representatives of civil society. You
might consider that while you're about your business. But I thank you so very
much for your participation.
BAKRADZE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. If I just may end with
responding to your comment about cooperation with Russia. Of course, I can
confirm even today in this critical time that we are ready to cooperate with
Russia. But this cooperation should be based on the mutual respect and mutual
recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity and legitimate interests
HASTINGS: Interesting that you should put that in. That first meeting that I
said that I had with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the first questions out -- or not
question, but first statement out of his mouth was, I appreciate the fact that
we are dealing in the arena of mutual respect. I'll never forget it.
So I'll remind him if I get an opportunity.
BAKRADZE: It's not our guilt that we are located next to Russia as country.
And it's not our guilt that we are 5 million but not 500 million. And it's not
our guilt that unlike some people in Kremlin, we don't see dissolution of
Soviet Union as a disaster and tragedy but we see it as a moment of happiness
which gave us freedom, life to many Central and Eastern European countries. So
unfortunately, or fortunately, we will not compromise on those values. And I
will never say dissolution of Soviet Union...
HASTINGS: Mr. Speaker...
BAKRADZE: ... is a tragedy.
HASTINGS: ... you have the last word.
BAKRADZE: Thank you.
HASTINGS: All right. I'm going to need to move on to the next panel.
Thank you so very much.
BAKRADZE: Thank you very much.
HASTINGS: At this time, I'd like to invite the executive director of the Nixon
Center, Mr. Paul Saunders, and Mr. Paul Goble, the director of research and
publications of the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy in Baku. Toward that end, I
would appreciate it Mr. Saunders if you would proceed, and then you Mr. Goble.
And if we have time for questions -- the only reason I say time is the fact
that we are expecting a vote real soon. So I'll listen to you all as will the
ranking member, and then we'll try to get some questions in if time permits.
SAUNDERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, also to the ranking member, for
the opportunity to be with you here today. And I'll try to be very brief and
maybe just hit a few high points from my written statement.
The first point that I'd like to make -- Mr. Bryza and the previous witness,
the speaker of the Georgian Parliament, went through the long and very complex
chronology of events that led up to the events last month. I won't try to do
that. I won't try to assess what both of them said. I would like to make one
point, however, and from my perspective there are really only two things that
are important about what happened. One is that Russia clearly had prepared
well in advance for this kind of situation and was waiting for the right
opportunity. The second is that the government of Georgia and President
Saakashvili personally knowingly gave them that opportunity against the advice
of American officials. Without going into all of the ins and outs, that's what
I really think the central point is there.
Next, I'd like to focus on what lessons should we draw from this experience,
because I think there are a number of important lessons. And after touching on
those, I'll try to very briefly talk about some of our policy options.
First of all, frankly, I think the Bush administration has profoundly
overpersonalized our relationship with the Georgian government. And, you know,
this was a problem, of course, that executive branches under both
administrations tend to have. But I really think there was an undue focus on
President Saakashvili. There was excessive and needless praise of President
Saakashvili. The president of the United States on March 19th when Mr.
Saakashvili was meeting with him in the Oval Office said that he admired the
president of Georgia who just a few months before, as we all remember, had
declared a state of emergency, forcibly dispersed protesters, shut down TV
stations, et cetera, et cetera.
And certainly the administration considers Georgia a friend of the United
States, but I think it's absolutely unnecessary for the president to say he
admires the president of Georgia, and it leads Georgian officials to perhaps
think that they have a relationship with the United States that the facts
demonstrated they don't. And that's dangerous.
Secondly, I think our administration needs to be much more careful in how they
put American credibility on the line. Our reputation in the former Soviet
Union, to my mind, has been very seriously by the events that transpired. How?
The United States accepted from Georgia, from its very tiny army, 2,000
soldiers to send to Iraq. Georgia sent soldiers to a combat zone to help the
United States. In Georgia's hour of greatest need, the United States did not
reciprocate that commitment. And I'm not arguing that we should have. I'm
arguing that the administration accepted that assistance from Georgia without
thinking through some of the very predictable expectations and consequences
that it could have. And this conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, they
existed at that time. And the administration, to my mind, should've thought
more carefully about that.
Thirdly, I think we should all learn from this that Russia has a lot more at
stake and is willing to pay a much higher price to advance its interests on its
borders than the United States does. And, you know, that doesn't mean that the
United States should allow Russia to create a sphere of influence. But it does
mean that we need to be extremely careful in the kinds of commitments that we
make, the kinds of expectations that we create, and we really need to calibrate
our policy to what we're ultimately going to be prepared to do.
Fourthly, I think we've learned some lessons about precedents and vetoes. You
know, the Bush administration and others have been saying very energetically
that Kosovo is not a precedent, that Russia doesn't have a veto over Georgia
joining NATO. The problem with that line of argument is that, you know, we get
to decide what we think is a precedent. We get to decide what we think our
national interests are. We get to decide what we should do about that. We get
to decide how to explain it. We don't get to decide what other people think is
a precedent. We don't get to decide how they react to actions that we take.
They get to decide. So, no, Russia doesn't have a veto over Georgia joining
NATO or not joining NATO. It doesn't, and it shouldn't. But if we pursue that
course of action, then we need to understand that the United States doesn't
have a veto over how Russia decides to respond. And I think that's something
that has been, unfortunately, demonstrated very clearly during recent weeks.
And, finally, one other lesson -- and I think it's useful to reflect back on
the 1990s and NATO enlargement in the 1990s, because NATO did something very
important at that time which was to insist that aspiring members resolve their
internal ethnic conflicts if they wanted to be part of NATO. Because the
alliance, I think quite correctly, did not want to import these problems into
its membership. And perhaps in retrospect we should've thought a little bit
more about that before pursuing the course that was taken.
Our policy: What do we do about this situation? I think there's a short-term
element to it. I think there's a long-term element to it. In the short term,
we need to make the best of a bad situation. We need to salvage what we can of
American credibility in this region. And to that end, you know, actually I
would broadly agree with the position that the administration has taken. We
need to provide support to Georgia. We need to continue to articulate our
support for Georgia, hopefully more for Georgia and much less for President
Saakashvili as we do that.
We need to prevent a situation in which the Kremlin believes that it has
deposed the Georgian leadership and that we did nothing about it or were not
able to do anything about it.
We also need, obviously, to ensure that Russia follows through on its
commitments and the agreement of just the last couple of days to have the
troops out of these special security zones by October 1st.
And finally, I think we need to try to salvage as much as we can of the
existing post-Cold War security architecture in Europe. And to do that, I
think we're going to have to be very careful. And I think that the
administration, again, has been correct by all accounts in making a
determination that unilaterally attempting to punish Russia won't be a
successful course of action.
Over the longer term, we have to do a number of different things. First of
all, to be honest, you know, we obviously cannot condone and should continue to
express our displeasure with what Russia did in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
But I don't see how we get those two territories back and make them a part of
Georgia again. And, you know, we don't need to announce that. There doesn't
need to be a press release from the State Department. But I think we need to
acknowledge that to ourselves as we move forward and to be honest with
ourselves about what our capabilities are and what they're not. We can't make
this issue a defining issue in our relationship with Russia. We have too much
else at stake: nuclear proliferation, arms control -- there's a long list of
Secondly, I don't know whether or when President Saakashvili will leave office.
Matt Bryza left open the possibility that from his perspective it could be
before 2013 when his term runs out. Whatever happens, I don't think we should
be excessively concerned when Mr. Saakashvili eventually leaves the scene. I
think there are a number of other politicians in the Georgian leadership who
are committed to democracy, committed to friendship with the United States, and
it would not be a tragedy to see Mr. Saakashvili go.
HASTINGS: Mr. Saunders, could I ask you -- I apologize...
SAUNDERS: I understand.
HASTINGS: But if I could ask you to wrap it up...
HASTINGS: ... so that we could hear Mr. Goble...
HASTINGS: ... at least for...
SAUNDERS: I apologize if I've taken too much time.
SAUNDERS: I'll be very brief and just give kind of telegraphic points for the
last few things here.
I think we need to have a real debate about NATO, and I think the Congress can
play a very important role in that. I don't think we've had a serious debate
about NATO. I think we had a debate about enlargement instead of a debate
about NATO. So that's one thing.
And finally, you've already, Mr. Chairman, mentioned the need to engage with
Russia. I think we do need to engage with Russia. We need to come up with
some creative new ideas for a security architecture in Europe that is going to
be sustainable. And to be sustainable, they have to buy into it.
So I'll wrap it up there and happily turn over the floor.
HASTINGS: I appreciate that very much. And for the record, I had an opening
statement that I did not offer, and I'll accept it by unanimous consent. And
any opening statement that Mr. Smith may have should be made part of the record
as well as if Senator Cardin didn't -- I don't know; I wasn't here. I guess he
had some things to say, but his official statement will be made part of the
Mr. Goble, thank you so much for being patient. And it's hard to apologize for
working, but we do have to vote.
GOBLE: Mr. Chairman, thank you for including me. It's a pleasure to appear
before you and Congressman Smith again after so many years in a very different
capacity. Because I've prepared written remarks, I want to just hit several of
the high points.
First, two preliminary observations. What has happened in Georgia is a
disaster that was waiting to happen and that can be repeated elsewhere across
the former Soviet space. The reality is that the border system that was
created in Soviet times was intended to create tension and to justify
In 1991 the United States welcomed the end of authoritarianism but also said
the borders could never change because we were concerned that that could tear
things apart. The consequence of that was to delay this problem. But it is
going to be a worse future, not a better one.
Second, I would like to call attention to one specific aspect of this conflict
that has not been hit very hard. We talk a great deal about the territorial
integrity of the Republic of Georgia. If the Republic of Georgia has
territorial integrity, or did, internationally recognized, that included both
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the fact is that the actions of President
Saakashvili, however foolish they may have been, were in full congruence with
the right of a government to act on its own territory. And the actions of the
Russian government were a violation of international law because they went
across an international boundary.
It is very, very important that we do not make a distinction between
territorial integrity that we're talking about now and territorial integrity
which existed prior to August 1st. That has tended to get lost in most of the
media and most of the discussion in this city.
Now, there are many lessons, and those are what I want to end with to be very
brief. A large number of countries are going to have to learn lessons from
this conflict. Georgia, along with its neighbors, is going to have to learn
one that many of the post-Soviet states have -- and that is that 1991 did not
repeal history, and it did not repeal geography. It's best that you try to
find a way to live with your neighbors, as unpleasant as they may be and as
much as you hate them for what they have done. That's just a reality.
The Russian Federation, however, is going to have to learn -- and how well we
can teach it is a big question -- that it cannot be a full member of the
international community if it is not willing to play by the rules. And the
fact is that invading other countries, like killing people, is wrong. And it
is terribly important -- many references have been made to getting to the
essentials. The reality is that the Russian government engaged in an act of
aggression across an international boundary. That doesn't mean we nuke Moscow,
but it means we recognize the fact. And trying to make this into a moral
equivalency -- that Saakashvili be (inaudible), and he did -- does not justify
an act of violation of international law of the kind that the Russian
government has engaged in.
But I would like to end by just giving you what I see are the five lessons we
should learn and give you three policy prescriptions that I think are essential
-- so essentially eight sentences.
First, despite all our hopes and expectations, 1991 was not the end of history.
Ending communism didn't end conflict, and the fact is we're going to have more
conflict in this part of the world in the future than we did in the past. As
much as people don't want to believe that, that's going to happen.
Second, and I will second Paul Saunders' comment, we have got to end our
personalization of relations with foreign leaders. It is not only that we have
sometimes sacrificed our own ideals and interests in the name of maintaining a
friendship with the leader of a large country -- the Russian Federation -- but
we have found ourselves made hostage to the actions of a leader of a smaller
country who thinks we will have no choice given what we have often said. And
we have been made hostage, in this case and some others.
Third, we need to learn how to deliver clear and consistent messages to leaders
and populations. The fact is we have delivered a consistent message to Georgia
over this period. We have had statements about how we always defend our
friends from very senior people, and we have had specific warnings not to do
it. We have had people going in and providing military instruction, and we
have said, "But you don't want to use these forces if someone invades your
country." The fact is that if you don't have a common that is delivered the
same way every time, you have a problem. And there's another way about
delivering a message: It is one of the great tragedies, and it's one of the
reasons I'm no longer in the U.S. government, that we have destroyed U.S.
international broadcasting; we lack the ability to reach the peoples of this
area. The Voice of America, Radio Free (inaudible) Liberty, all need to be
expanded. They're more necessary now than were 25 years ago, and unfortunately
in the last 10 years we have watched them be destroyed. That's one of the
reasons I took early retirement and was in Estonia, where I had the pleasure of
meeting you, Mr. Chairman, and am now in Azerbaijan, because I'm trying to what
I can't do on the airwaves by being there. OK? And I think this is critically
Fourth, we need to insist on universal standards of international behavior.
That has two implications, neither of which is entirely welcome. First, we
cannot credibly ask other people to obey the rules if we don't obey the rules
ourselves. We have to be very careful when we take action that we don't do
things that violate the rules, because that subverts our possibility of asking
anyone else to behave. And we have done that, tragically, a number of times.
And second, we need to understand that when the Russian government currently
talks about double standards, and does all the time, the Russian government
complains that we're engaging in double standards. The fact is the Russian
government wants to be treated by a different standard than anyone else. It
wants us to recognize that it has a right to use military force across an
international boundary, to illegally distribute passports in countries which do
not have an agreement with dual citizenship or even constitutionally ban it, as
is in the case of Ukraine. But the Russians insist that because they're big
and important that has to be.
And fifth, we need to recognize something else. All too many times in the last
month we have heard people talk about what's going on and what we should do
with respect to the Russian Federation in terms of the risk of a new Cold War.
Let me tell you that invocations of a new Cold War are precisely designed to
force the United States not to do anything. It is quite amazing to me that
with every other country in the world we know we have things we agree with, and
we know we have things we disagree with. That's going to be true with Russia,
too. It was even true during the Cold War. Invocation of a new Cold War is a
way, an act, of public diplomacy intimidation against the United States people
and against the United States government.
I would recommend three things that we need to do to get out of this current
problem we're in. First, I agree that we are not going to see South Ossetia
and Abkhazia reincorporated immediately. That does not mean there isn't
something we should do. In 1932, Secretary of State Simpson announced that it
was American policy never to recognize border changes brought about by force
alone. That led to the non-recognition policy, which was declared in 1940, for
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It is my view that the United States
government should immediately proclaim a new non-recognition policy that the
United States does not recognize the forcible inclusion of these countries by
military is a violation of a policy that we are supposed to have had online
since 1932. It is something that would be easy to do, would be fully
understood, and it would signal to those people and to the Georgian people that
we have accepted a reality even if we can't change it immediately.
Second, we need to expand our ties with the peoples of this entire region and
our expertise on these areas. It is a tragedy how few people there are who
speak Georgian, who have lived in Georgia, who know the region or any of these
countries. It should never happen again, as it did during this crisis, that
the Department of State should announce that it could not spare Mr. Bryza to
take a particular trip because it didn't have anyone else on whom it could
count here in Washington for expertise. When you don't have a bench, it's
really tough to field the first team. But we have got to address that. And I
believe the way you do that is to rebuild our area studies programs by the
revival of the National Defense Education Act Title VI program which was
responsible for a lot of us getting trained.
And finally, it seems to me that recognizing that the borders of the republics
of the former Soviet Union were drawn in order to create problems rather than
to resolve them that the United States needs to begin to understand that the
right of nations to self-determination is also important and not just border
stability. When we declared border stability was above everything else in
February of 1992, when we said that we would never recognize any secession from
secession, we set in play the forces that ultimately led to the destruction of
Grozny in the genocide of the Chechen people, first by Mr. Yeltsin and then by
Mr. Putin. It is in many ways our fault because we sent the signals.
I believe we need under the current circumstances to begin to think about how
we create mechanisms of negotiation and of conversation so that the rights of
nations to self-determination, the right of peoples to democratic choice, will
be respected rather than sacrificed as they have sometimes been in recent years
on the alter of territorial stability. But if we're going to say territorial
inviolability, then let us make it very clear that if a country does something
on its own territory we have said that's its choice, instead of as we have done
in the Georgian crisis acting as if Moscow has an equal right to be on the
territory of the Republic of Georgia as the Republic of Georgia government has.
And this is in no way -- just to finish -- is in no way an endorsement by me
of the some of the decisions that Mr. Saakashvili has made with respect to the
media, with respect to military action, or with respect to his moves against
Having said that, I think we need to take seriously that Georgia is a full
member of the international community, and that if we're going to recognize the
rights of states and the territorial inviolability of their borders, then
Georgia had a right too, and it has been brutally violated by the Russian
Federation and not because of anything the Georgian government did, however
unfortunate it was.
HASTINGS: I thank you, Paul. We're going to have to proceed apace to vote. I
would like to make it clear that all of our testimonies will be on our Web
site, and your full written statements will be included therein. And it would
be my hope that, to the extent that it would be possible, that I could have a
casual meeting with either or both of you, even if it requires coming to
GOBLE: It would be nice. Thank you.
SAUNDERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Whereupon the hearing ended at 3:36 p.m.]