By C.J. Chivers New York Times News Service
TBILISI, Georgia — President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia said Sunday that he planned to rebuild his country’s shattered army, and that even after its decisive defeat in the war for control of one of Georgia’s two separatist enclaves he would continue to pursue a policy of uniting both enclaves under the Georgian flag.
“It will stay the same,” he said of his ambition to bring the two enclaves, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, under Georgian control. “Now as ever.”
Also on Sunday, France called an emergency summit meeting of the European Union for Sept. 1 to discuss “the future of relations with Russia” and aid to Georgia, according to a statement from French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The meeting was framed as a response to Russia’s failure to meet the terms of the cease-fire agreement that Sarkozy negotiated between Moscow and Tbilisi. Sarkozy, in a statement, said he was responding to the demands of “several states” for the summit meeting, which will deal with “the crisis in Georgia” and take place in Brussels, Belgium.
According to senior French officials who helped negotiate the cease-fire agreement, the Russians must pull all their troops back to positions before the crisis began on Aug. 7. The Russian troops stationed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia before that date may stay, and may continue to send out patrols into a “security zone,” a thin buffer zone roughly five miles beyond the enclaves’ borders. But the Russians are not allowed to set up fixed positions in the security zone — an agreement that Russia has not adhered to, Sarkozy said Friday in a telephone call with President Bush.
In the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi, the first American naval vessel arrived Sunday to distribute humanitarian aid.
With the bulk of Russian troops now withdrawn to the enclaves or to Russian soil, Saakashvili framed the war against South Ossetia and Russia — a military defeat that imperiled his government and threatens Georgia’s fragile economy — as a seminal moment that offered the seeds of political and national success.
Saakashvili also said that the Bush administration had not communicated disappointment or signaled a decline in its support for him since he gave the order late at night on Aug. 7 to attack Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital.
He said that while he may face pressures in the months ahead, as the effects of the war ripple through the economy, he said he expected to weather any troubles.
“There has been tremendous solidarity,” he said.
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