Two dates of the start of the "August War": How Georgian authorities commemorated the 15th anniversary of the Russian intervention
Two dates of the August War
President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili commemorated the 15th anniversary of the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia on August 7.
She began by visiting the chapel within the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral built in memory of those who lost their lives in the war. Afterwards the president visited the fraternal cemetery in Mukhatgverdi, where the soldiers who died in 2008 are buried. Zourabichvili was the only government representative to visit the fraternal cemetery on August 7.
The start of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008 is a contentious issue in Georgia. The ruling party designates August 8th. Opponents argue that this date is part of the Russian narrative and that the war actually began on August 7th. Notably, it was on August 7th that the first Russian military personnel entered Georgia. Georgia’s international partners also made statements on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the war on August 7th, identifying this day as the start of the conflict in August 2008.
President Zurabishvili not only talked about the aggression fifteen years ago but reiterated the current threat posed by Russia.
Addressing journalists, Zurabishvili stated: “We have an enemy, who sometimes fights us through war and sometimes through soft power, which has been very noticeable lately. If we want the independence that those resting here fought for, if we want a state, we must be rational and identify where our common threat lies.”
Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, responded to the 15th anniversary of the Russo-Georgian war on August 8th. He released a statement on his official Facebook page, outlining the consequences of Russian military aggression:
“Fifteen years have passed since the start of the August 2008 war. Today is a special day for all of us – Russian military aggression led to significant loss of life, forced displacement of civilian population, and the temporary occupation of our territories, which remains a key challenge to our sovereignty and the further development of our country.”
He stated that the goal of the Georgian Dreamgovernment is to restore territorial integrity through peaceful means.
“Our government remains committed to a peaceful path towards restoring territorial integrity and reuniting the country. We are driven by an unwavering belief that a peaceful, united, strong, and developed Georgia is the best perspective for Georgians, Ossetians, Abkhazians, and all peoples living on our land. We are doing everything we can to make this goal a reality in the near future,” the Prime Minister’s statement concluded.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia also responded to the 15th anniversary of the Russian invasion on August 7th.
“In August 2008, the Russian Federation, for the first time through the use of military force, violated the territorial integrity and borders of a sovereign country, creating a serious threat to the security architecture of the region and all of Europe,” stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia in a special statement.
The statement highlights that Russia has not adhered to the ceasefire agreement brokered by the EU, has expanded its illegal control over the occupied regions, and has engaged in various actions including the construction of artificial barriers, restricting the free movement of the population affected by the conflict, unlawful detentions, and more, exacerbating an already complex situation both from a humanitarian and security standpoint.
The Ministry’s statement also affirms that Georgia is utilizing all peaceful means to compel Russia to fulfill the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, primarily through its “constructive engagement in international negotiations in Geneva.”
Tbilisi “continues to pursue a policy of peaceful resolution of the Russo-Georgian conflict and seeks demilitarization and peaceful development through diplomatic and legal tools, in close cooperation with international partners.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses gratitude to the international community for its support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The Ministry calls on the Russian Federation to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, fulfill its obligations to the European Union under the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008, and withdraw its troops from the territory of Georgia.”
Furthermore, the Ministry extends condolences to the families and loved ones of the soldiers and civilians who heroically lost their lives in the 2008 war.