Georgia seeks emergency decision from World Court                


By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press Writer                                 54 
minutes ago

                        THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Georgia accused Russia on 
Monday of a "campaign of harassment and persecution" in its two separatist 
regions and called on the International Court of Justice to impose emergency 
measures to halt killings and forced expulsions.                        

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                        But, in a blunt demonstration of who is in charge in 
the tense zone around South Ossetia,
Russian soldiers turned back a United Nations convoy. And the Georgian
government said Russia reinforced its positions on the outskirts of the
Black Sea port city of Poti over the weekend.
The World Court case opened a new legal front in the battle between Georgia and 
Russia for control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and began as French President 
Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Moscow with a European Union delegation for talks 
aimed at easing the standoff.
But Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Monday just 
before the EU delegation sat down for talks with Russian President Dmitry 
Medvedev that Moscow was against an autonomous EU monitoring mission.
He said such a force would lead to unnecessary "fragmentation" of international 
monitoring efforts by the U.N. and the Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe.
Sarkozy warned, however, that the EU is "united" in its stance, saying "we will 
defend our convictions forcefully."
"We want peace, we want confidence, we want good-neighborly relations," he said.
Georgia accuses Russian forces, local militias and mercenaries of
conducting a campaign of murder, forced displacement and attacks on
towns and villages that started in the early 1990s and culminated in
last month's brief war.
Ethnic Georgians "are being forced out of their homes by a campaign
of harassment and persecution," Tina Burjaliani, Georgia's first Deputy
Minister of Justice, told the court.
Georgia claims the campaign has left thousands of civilians dead and forced 
more than 300,000 from their homes.
Burjaliani said Tbilisi had filed its case "at a time of great
distress in its history. A time when hundreds of thousands of its
nationals are persecuted and displaced from their homes only because
they are Georgians."
Burjaliani accused Russia of trying to undermine Georgia's
independence "through a policy of divide and conquer ... that has
ripped apart its delicate multiethnic culture."
Russia also accurses Georgia of crimes against humanity for launching a massive 
attack last month on South Ossetia,
killing Russian peacekeepers and dozens of civilians. Moscow says its
military actions since are aimed at protecting its civilians.
Lawyers for Moscow were addressing the court Monday afternoon.
Outside the courtroom, Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands, Kirill
Gevorgian, dismissed Georgia's case as "nonsense."
"The whole problem in Ossetia, in Abkhazia, is discrimination of Ossetians and 
by Georgia," he told reporters. "The line of Russia is to try to help
the situation to keep the peace, to prevent the discrimination."
Russian leaders have bristled at the West for failing to condemn
what they described as a Georgian "aggression" and indiscriminate
killing of civilians, and threatened to prosecute Georgian President
Mikhail Saakashvili as a war criminal.
A month after the outbreak of war in the region and weeks after a
cease-fire was approved, Russian troops remain entrenched deep inside
Georgian territory.
The dispute has plunged relations between Moscow and the West to near Cold War 
levels of animosity.

The 15-judge tribunal, unofficially known as the World Court, will likely take 
years to deal with Georgia's case, which accuses Russia of breaching the 
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

"This is an extreme form of racial discrimination," said James Crawford, a 
lawyer for Georgia.

"There has been burning of houses, murder of civilians, looting of
property and forced expulsions on a scale that surpasses the darkest
moments of the civil war of 1991-92," he added, saying 10 percent of
Georgia's population had been displaced by the Russian campaign.
After three days of hearings that began Monday in the
wood-paneled Great Hall of Justice in the court's seat in The Hague,
judges must decide whether they have jurisdiction before mulling
whether to impose any immediate measures to safeguard civilians. Even
if they do, it is unclear whether Russia will comply and the court has
no way of enforcing its decisions.
"The court does not have an army or police force to make a
party before it comply with its order. But the fact is that in the vast
majority of orders, states comply," Paul Reichler, an American lawyer
on Georgia's legal team, said ahead of the hearing.

Russia has signed a cease-fire agreement but also recognized both South Ossetia
and Abkhazia as independent, a move denounced in Georgia and abroad.
The regions make up roughly 20 percent of Georgia's territory — and
include miles of prime coastline along the Black Sea.
In South Ossetia, the convoy of four vehicles from U.N.
agencies waited for about an hour at the checkpoint in Karaleti, but
was turned away after a brief discussion with a Russian general who
arrived to negotiate. No reason was given for the decision.
"We tried to do a preliminary humanitarian assessment mission.
It didn't work out today as we would have hoped, and we will make every
effort to continue to conduct such missions in the future," said David
Carden, who was leading the interagency mission by the World Food
Program, UNICEF and the UN refugee agency.
The Russian general left immediately after the exchange and a
serviceman at the checkpoint said he was unauthorized to comment on the
reason for the refusal.
Wolfgang Dressman, the emergency response adviser to CARE
International, said he had been turned away Sunday and told to come
back again Monday.

Georgia's government said five Russian armored personnel carriers
and about 50 troops were added to a post near Poti and one APC and 10
troops were added to a post on a main road into the city. Georgian
officials said previously that there was a total of about 100 Russian
troops at the two posts.
Georgia also said that two Russian air force jets illegally
entered Georgian airspace Sunday and remained over Georgia for about 45


Associated Press writers Steve Gutterman in Karaleti, Georgia and Jamey Keaten, 
Vladimir Isachenkov and Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow contributed to this report.


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