TBILISI, DFWatch – A proposal by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meant to promote peace and understanding in the Georgian conflict areas has been briskly rejected by the Kremlin as a lie.
Clinton said the U.S. will recognize something called ‘neutral passports’ and allow people in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to visit the U.S.
The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov calls Clinton’s promise ‘an attempt by Saakashvili to lie to the Abkhaz and Ossetian people.’
Georgia responds by calling Lavrov’s position a ‘bitter reaction.’
During a visit to Georgia, Clinton said Tuesday that it will become easier for the population in the separatist regions to come to the U.S. This will happen when American embassies and consular offices start recognizing what’s called neutral passports, by which Abkhaz and Ossetian people will have the opportunity to study in or travel to the U.S.
This will be the part of reconciliation process, that will promote a peaceful and fair resolution to the conflict, she added.
Neutral passports was suggested last year by Georgia as a way to let people in the breakaway regions travel abroad, because today they are unable to use their Russian passports except for going to Russia, and the locally issued passports are not recognized internationally. Areas occupied by Russia make up about 20 percent of Georgia’s territory, and Russian passports have been distributed to most of the people living there.
The breakaway authorities refused the offer to have neutral passports.
President Mikheil Saakashvili says he hopes the ‘U.S. will recognize the document which we will distribute to our citizens living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Before, Baltic countries and Japan recognized this document, now the U.S. did. This means that now many will recognize this document.”
The Russian foreign ministry says Tbilisi is lying to people living in those regions.
“First of all we should learn that ‘neutral passports’ aren’t neutral at all. ‘State code’ is indicated Georgia in the column and the Georgian Interior Ministry is named as the body which issued the passport, and the absent of the Georgian state symbol on the cover of the passport, this is just a plan of Georgia,” the ministry writes.
Georgia calls it a bitter reaction.
“There is nothing anti-Russian in this initiative announced by Hillary Clinton and there should be nothing anti-Russian in that people living in occupied territories will be given the opportunity to travel normally, go abroad and study and have opportunity to see what a free world means and what a free country is,” Davit Bakradze, Georgian Speaker of Parliament, told DF Watch.
He says this is a new window of opportunity, that’s why it is important and ‘it was a first signal for our compatriots who live in the occupied territories.’
“Russia is fundamentally against all this, and that’s why there was such a bitter reaction.”
The Speaker hopes that people living in the occupied territories will use this opportunity, despite Russian policy.