Costa Rica broke this week with the United States over fighting between Russia and Georgia.
Costa Rica, which currently sits on the United Nations Security Council, rejected calls by the U.S. for a resolution condemning Russia for its attack on Georgia.
Accusing Georgia of attacking separatists in the breakaway province of South Ossetia, Russia began rolling troops into Georgia last Friday.
“A condemnation seems inappropriate to us when Georgia started the hostilities,” Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said.
Still, he added, “Russia’s armed invasion into Georgian territory, beyond the boundaries of South Ossetia … deeply worries us … and is not at all justified.”
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Wednesday agreed to a cease-fire that would withdraw troops to the positions they occupied before fighting broke out Thursday.
Still, violence continued in Georgia even after Medvedev’s announcement, and a Russian tank batallion occupied the Georgian city of Gori on Wednesday, according to press reports.
Stagno said he supports the cease-fire agreement, drafted by the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He called for an end to the fighting under terms that respect Georgia’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” so that South Ossetia remains an autonomous province within Georgia.
Russian peacekeepers, he said, should remain in South Ossetia under a 1992 agreement by Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian authorities that gave the province autonomy. Stagno suggested the international community send a team to the region to ensure all parties respect the cease-fire, South Ossetia’s autonomy and Georgia’s borders.
In an apparent acknowledgement of the U.N.’s limitations, Stagno said the Security Council likely would not direct the mission because Russia is a permanent council member and wields a veto.
Long-simmering tensions in South Ossetia have been revived in recent years under Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, a U.S. ally who has sought to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. That has angered Moscow, which has given South Ossetians aid, military protection and passports to the mostly pro-Russian population.