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Russia Aggression Must Cease in Georgia

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), comprised of eighteen national membership organizations representing more than twenty-two million Americans who trace their heritage to Central and Eastern Europe, expresses its deep concern over the current Russian aggression toward the sovereign nation of Georgia. Russia’s military attacks, and subsequent invasion of South Ossetia, and most importantly -- the bombing of cities and towns far away from the conflict regions -- violate international law and Georgia’s internationally recognized territorial borders and sovereignty. As a strategic political and economic partner of the United States, Georgia is in need of immediate diplomatic intervention and assistance. The dramatic escalation of violence in this region only works to destabilize the Georgian government and the remarkable strides they have made in solidifying their democratic institutions and values. Of further concern is that Russia may also try to regain its influence on its ”near abroad” if the West cannot now come to Georgia’s aid.

The present conflict in Georgia has already caused untold devastation and loss of human lives. The world community must condemn this violence, and urge Russia to immediately withdraw its forces and cease all military operations. During this extremely critical period of transition in this region, it is imperative to support and encourage an ally that promotes democratic ideals and principles in an increasingly hostile and autocratic geo-political environment.

With direct and truly neutral international mediation of this dispute, we can ensure continued Euro-Atlantic stability and prosperity. Moreover, this crisis amply demonstrates why Georgia should be moved to the Membership Action Plan (MAP) stage of NATO’s enlargement not only to secure Georgia, but also to promote security throughout the region.

Recent statements from President Bush, and the two presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, underscore the non-partisan nature of this issue, as well as the grave importance of a resolution to this armed intervention, which would promote peace and stability in Georgia and the region. The CEEC calls upon the U.S. Administration to increase diplomatic talks with our allies to persuade the Russian Federation into a peaceful settlement of the current military conflict.

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The Polish American Congress is a member, and one of the co-founders, of the Coalition.