The message said that Russia was steadily pursuing its traditional line of friendly and neighbourly relations between the two countries, seeking to enrich them with allied coordination and strategic partnership.
At the same time, President Putin noted that Russia was seriously concerned about the situation in the Pankisi Gorge, because it was a stronghold of a large number of armed Chechen militants and international terrorists whose presence on Georgian soil posed a direct threat to the security of Georgia itself. Since questions related to the maintenance of internal stability in the country undoubtedly belonged to the exclusive competence of Georgian authorities, Russia was prepared to render its assistance there, proceeding from the interests of general security and peace in the South Caucasus, only provided there was a direct request from the Georgian leadership.
“We, however,” the President stressed, “mean to say that the militants based on Georgian territory continue to reap death and destruction on Russian soil. And in this situation, in accordance with the rules of international law, Russia has every ground for insisting that Tbilisi take exhaustive measures to cut short the activities of terrorist groups in the Pankisi Gorge.”
Owing to the fact that the Georgian side has for a long time ignored Russian proposals to establish close coordination between the special and border services of the two countries to raise a substantial barrier to terrorists on the Russian-Georgian border, they have quietly entrenched themselves in Georgia, making Pankisi into a staging ground for attacks on Russia.
The President stressed that in order to effectively suppress the seat of terrorism in the Pankisi Gorge, political will was needed, as well as purposeful, determined and specific efforts to render the militant units on Georgian territory harmless. The tactic of “peaceful squeezing out” of terrorists was unacceptable.
His message expressed hope that the operation being conducted by Georgia’s law enforcement agencies in the Pankisi Gorge sought a real result – the terrorists would be blocked, disarmed and delivered to the international community.
Russia expected them to be later handed over to Russia. In that context the message expressed readiness to render assistance to the competent Georgian authorities in flushing out and identifying the terrorists who had committed criminal acts on Russian territory by dispatching a group of authorised representatives of Russian law enforcement agencies. Such assistance did not rule out other forms of help to the Georgian side.
The President reaffirmed the readiness of the appropriate Russian departments to cooperate with their Georgian counterparts and exchange information and materials on monitoring aircraft flights in the Russian-Georgian border area.