Shevardnadze Apologizes to People of Ukraine for Georgian President Saakashvili’s Statements

TBILISI (RIA Novosti) – Former Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze apologized to the people of Ukraine for statements made by Mikhail Saakashvili, the present President of the country.

Eduard Shevardnadze concluded his open letter to the newspaper "Mtavari Gazeti" with the following appeal: "It is a fact that we unreasonably offended the Ukrainian people and I think we have to apologize for that. Before other people surmise to do so I am apologizing to the Ukrainian people and state that till the end of my life I will retain friendship, affection and gratitude for the gratuitous aid provided to Georgia by Ukraine. Take care of your friends." The former president indicates that "Georgia has been enjoying traditional and very warm relations with Ukraine." Mr. Shevardnadze wrote that "Ukraine was the first state to recognize independence of Georgia. It is noteworthy that the fact never improved tense relations between Ukraine and Georgia." On March 24 at a press conference in Tbilisi Mikhail Saakashvili made a statement regarding attempts of the Adzharian management to recruit mercenaries in Chechnya, Ukraine and the Georgian Pankisi gorge (where close to the Chechen sector of the Russian-Georgian border militants were staying amongst migrants from Chechnya) in case of aggravation of the situation in the autonomous area. Mr. Saakashvili stated: "At the moment there are no armed mercenaries in the territory of Adzharia. But according to the Georgian intelligence service, people appeared in Russia, Ukraine and in the territory of the Pankisi gorge in Georgia engaged in recruiting mercenaries for their subsequent use in case of an armed conflict in Adzharia." In reply to that statement of the Georgian president, official Kiev requested explanations from the Georgian ambassador to Ukraine.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Kakha Sikharulidze stated in this respect to RIA Novosti that "all misunderstandings related to the statement of president Saakashvili were settled as the head of the state did not mean the Ukrainian leadership and citizens but was talking only about the geographical position."