STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt left for Georgia on Monday to push for an end to an armed conflict there after Russian troops pushed into two separatist regions of the country.
Bildt, also chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, said Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected.
“I urge once again all parties to immediately enter into a ceasefire,” Bildt said in a statement.
“The peaceful solution of conflicts is a general principle of the Council of Europe. Both Georgia and the Russian Federation have committed themselves, when they joined the organization, to settle all conflicts by peaceful means.”
A foreign ministry spokesman said Bildt, a seasoned negotiator who was the United Nation’s Special Envoy in the Balkans, would arrive in Georgia later on Monday.
Bildt, in a statement on Saturday, said Russia’s claim to be protecting its citizens in the regions did not justify military action in Georgia. He drew comparisons with former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and with Adolf Hitler.
“We did not accept military intervention by Milosevic’s Serbia in other former Yugoslav states on the grounds of protecting Serbian passport holders,” Bildt said.
“And we have reason to remember how Hitler used this very doctrine little more than half a century ago to undermine and attack substantial parts of central Europe.”