August 11, 2008
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR NEWS INTERVIEWS GEORGIAN UN AMBASSADOR
IRAKLI ALASANIA AND ALEXANDER DARCHIEV,
RUSSIA’S CHARGE D’AFFAIRES IN WASHINGTON

INTERVIEWS AIRING ON NPR NEWS’ DAY TO DAY
TODAY, AUGUST 11

EXCEPRTS BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT 3:00PM (ET)

August 11, 2008; Washington, D.C. – In separate interviews airing today on NPR News’ Day to Day, Georgian and Russian officials discuss the ongoing conflict between the neighboring countries: Iraklia Alasania, Georgia’s ambassador to the United Nations, and Alexander Darchiev, the charge d'affaires at the Russian Embassy in Washington. The interviews are part of NPR’s continuing coverage of the conflict; all coverage is available at www.NPR.org

Iraklia Alasania tells NPR’s Alex Chadwick that Georgia offers residents of South Ossetia: “almost unlimited autonomy, which is acceptable under the international norms and within the framework of the Georgian territorial integrity and sovereignty. The thing is here that we are dealing right now to be clear with two different things. One is the aggression and attack on the Georgian state, a full-scale invasion, which is going on against all of the principles of international law. And the second, what we are dealing here, is a humanitarian catastrophe that was ignited by this conflict.”

Speaking to NPR host Madeline Brand, Alexander Darchiev says that the “reality on the ground is completely different” than what the Georgians are saying, and the responsibility to end the conflict “lies with the Georgian side.” Darchiev also tells NPR: “We have no plans to invade Georgia. We made it quite clear. We did not want to have a regime change in Georgia. That’s the Georgian people to decide, you know, and the – but we – but we do not demand Mr. Saakashivili to step down as a precondition for a ceasefire. But we do not want to continue contacts with this man who gave criminal orders and is responsible for the atrocities.”

Excerpts from both interviews are below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Day to Day. The audio of the interview will be available at approximately 3PM (ET) at www.NPR.org Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo.

Day to Day, hosted by Alex Chadwick and Madeline Brand, offers a fresh take on national and world news, culture, politics and technology. To find stations and broadcast times for Day to Day, visit www.NPR.org/stations


-NPR-



[BEGIN EXCERPT]

IRAKLI ALASANIA: First of all, our latest news is very disturbing as well. They just occupied the Zugdidi region of Western Georgia. And the unrestricted number, actually, amazingly unrestricted number, of the personnel and the military equipment are driven from Abkhazia to the Zugdidi region.

ALEX CHADWICK: This is from this other separatist region of Abkhazia.

MR. ALASANIA: Yes, exactly. They opened the second front and also there’s an attack on Upper Abkhazia, Kadori region, which was for 14 years under the control – it’s one of the territories of Abkhazia which was under control of the central government.

MR. CHADWICK: Of Georgia you mean?

MR. ALASANIA: Central government of Georgia, yes. So now, in Kadori, overnight, there was bombings and shellings of the Gori city. Even when President Saakashvili went there together with the Foreign Minister Kushner, the overflights of the Russian jets were actually circling in the air.

[END EXCERPT]

[BEGIN EXCERPT]

MR. CHADWICK: The precipitating event for this was this action by Georgia troops in South Ossetia last week. Would Georgia be willing to allow South Ossetia some autonomy, some other kind of arrangement, something to get this stopped, to save Georgia?

MR. ALASANIA: Absolutely. And thank you very much for that question because there are sometimes unclear understandings, what was proposed by the government of Georgia to this separatist regime. We offered almost unlimited autonomy, which is acceptable under the international norms and within the framework of the Georgian territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The thing is here that we are dealing right now to be clear with two different things. One is the aggression and attack on the Georgian state, a full-scale invasion, which is going on against all of the principles of international law. And the second, what we are dealing here, is a humanitarian catastrophe that was ignited by this conflict. I mean, there are lots of civilian populations killed on both sides of this community, Ossetians and Georgians.

[END EXCERPT]

[BEGIN EXCERPT]

MADELEINE BRAND: Now, we just spoke with a Georgian diplomat to the U.N. He says your true aim is not to protect these breakaway republics, but to actually move in, overthrow the independent, West-leaning government, which wants to join NATO, and install a government more favorable to Russia, a friendlier government to Russia and dominate Georgia, the whole Caucasus region, in fact, and gain full political control over that area.

ALEXANDER DARCHIEV: This is not true, you know. I should say it’s a lie, a blatant lie because we have no plans to invade Georgia. We made it quite clear. We did not want to have a regime change in Georgia. That’s the Georgian people to decide, you know, and the – but we – but we do not demand Mr. Saakashivili to step down as a precondition for a ceasefire. But we do not want to continue contacts with this man who gave criminal orders and is responsible for the atrocities.

So we are ready. So our goal in South Ossetia is to guarantee the security of the people there and to enforce peace there. And it’s the Georgian people to decide the fate of their adventurous leader who is responsible for that, who is responsible for the aggression and who killed, who is responsible for mass killings of civilians.

MS. BRAND: But you say you’re not going to invade and, yet, you’ve been bombing.

MR. DARCHIEV: You know, what’s actually going on – we do not bomb civilian targets. We do not target civilian and commercial infrastructure. Russian military conducts precision strikes to suppress only those military targets that are used by Georgians to attack civilians and peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

[END EXCERPT]