The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has failed to give Russia full
support for its actions in South Ossetia. VOA Moscow correspondent
Peter Fedynsky reports.
The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups China, Russia, and four other former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, concluded with a declaration expressing deep concern of its members over recent tensions in South Ossetia. It urged all sides to peacefully resolve existing problems through dialogue.
While the statement voiced support for what is described as Russia's active role in resolving the conflict in Georgia, presidents of the SCO member states reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of respect for historic and cultural traditions of every country and efforts aimed at the unity of the state and its territorial integrity.
Russia's recognition Tuesday of South Ossetia and Abkhazia violated that principle, relying instead on the competing notion of self-determination of peoples. Russian recognition has been met with harsh criticism from the West.
China, a multi-ethnic state, which has its own concerns about secessionist movements, issued a statement through its Foreign Ministry on Wednesday recognizing the complicated history and realities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Beijing has also called for all sides to resolve their differences through dialogue.
No country has followed Russia's lead to recognize Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence.
SCO support for territorial integrity follows a personal appeal by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to his fellow heads of state.
Mr. Medvedev says the conflict in Georgia is probably the most dramatic episode of recent times. He said it was natural that he would again explain to his SCO partners what really happened, because the picture presented by Western media was, according to the Russian leader, substantially different in terms of identifying the aggressor, and who should bear political, moral, and legal responsibility for what happened. He adds that SCO leaders were grateful to hear his remarks.
Russian television had announced a news conference by summit participants would be broadcast live, but viewers were told the event was delayed and would begin shortly. Subsequently, the president of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon was shown, live, announcing the news conference was over. Russian television did not offer any explanation for the dropped coverage.
The United States and other Western nations are calling for Russia to withdraw all of its troops from a controversial buffer zone around South Ossetia, which gives Moscow a military presence in undisputed Georgian territory.
France, which now holds the European Union's rotating presidency, has called a special EU summit meeting for Monday to discuss the Georgian crisis. Speaking to reporters in the Tajik capital, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, of having a sick and confused imagination for suggesting that Russia could threaten Moldova, Ukraine and its Crimean peninsula.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in 2001. It holds annual summits to discuss trade and economic issues and also mutual problems such as drug trafficking.