S.Ossetia Wants Assessment of Reasons of Conflict between ‘Brotherly People’

Saakashvili: I call on each peaceable force
to agree on a dialogue.
While Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was calling on the authorities of breakaway South Ossetia for dialogue, leader of the unrecognized republic Eduard Kokoity was speaking of a necessity to assess those reasons which triggered the armed conflict between, as Kokoity put it, “brotherly people” in the early 90s.

On May 3 President Saakashvili met with Georgian students at the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office and simultaneously made a televised address to the nation. Saakashvili was speaking about those achievements which, as he said, were made during his one year as President and stressed the importance of upcoming visit of U.S. President George W. Bush to Georgia. In his speech, Saakashvili also mentioned the South Ossetian conflict resolution issue and called on Tskhinvali for dialogue.

Saakashvili said that in June the Georgian authorities plan to hold “a huge conference” in Tbilisi and invite all international organizations working over the conflict resolution issues to “thoroughly” discuss the South Ossetian peace plan proposed by Saakashvili during his address at the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, which occured in Strasbourg in January.

Saakashvili listed several measures recently undertaken by the Georgian authorities in an attempt to foster confidence building between the sides. However, according to observers, these efforts were largely undermined after the armed clashes that occurred between the Georgian and Ossetian forces last August.

“We have closed down a training camp for reserve forces in the village of Dzevera [in the South Ossetian conflict zone]. We have decreased the number of Georgian peacekeepers [in the conflict zone] by tenfold… We have offered a peaceful initiative of conflict resolution to the South Ossetian side. Now, I call on each peaceable force to agree on a dialogue,” Saakashvili said.
The Georgian President also noted that Tbilisi is ready to open a special office in Gori, a town near the South Ossetian conflict zone, which will issue Georgian passports to citizens living in the breakaway region.

But President of breakaway South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity made it clear in an interview with the Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 television that Tbilisi should assess and condemn those “acts which led to a confrontation between [the] brotherly people” of South Ossetia and Georgia in the early 90s, during the presidency of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. He also said that Tbilisi should start considering restitution issue.

“Political will and courage is necessary to recognize a mistake. What triggered this confrontation, what triggered this genocide [of Ossetians]? Georgians themselves described the regime of [Georgia’s late President Zviad] Gamsakhurdia as “provincial fascism” but, unfortunately, this has not been reflected in political documents. There is no political document condemning those political leaders who fueled the armed confrontation between the two brotherly nations,” Eduard Kokoity said in an interview, which was broadcasted on May 3.

“I would like to expect from the Georgian side a condemnation of those acts which led to a war between two brotherly people. I have even noticed recently that many politicians fear calling Ossetians and Georgia ‘brotherly people.’ Haven’t we been brotherly people?” he added.

He reiterated that the Georgian side’s proposal over settlement of the conflict, which was offered by President Saakashvili, is unacceptable for Tskhinvali. He also said that this document was not even handed over to the South Ossetian side by official Tbilisi.

“Officially, I have seen this initiative nowhere. You can disseminate it through electronic media sources, but we have not yet received any official information about this [peace proposal]… It [peace plan] is absolutely unacceptable for us. We are an independent state. We have not appealed to any one to consider the status of South Ossetia,” Kokoity said.

When answering the question why he rejected to hold talks with Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli in late April, Kokoity said that he is against ‘meetings just for meetings’ sake’ and offered to hold talks between the Interior Ministers instead in an attempt to help the reduction of the crime rate in the conflict zone.

“I am categorically against meetings which are held just for meetings’ [sake]. We should hold a meeting between the ‘power’ ministers [referring to the Interior Ministers and other officials from the law enforcement agencies]. We have proposed holding this kind of meeting to the Georgian side many times, but we have not seen results in practice despite their [the Georgian side’s] consent [to hold a meeting between the Interior Ministers],” Kokoity said.

He also accused the Georgian side of commiting acts of provocation, “aimed at undermining the relatively stabilized situation which currently exists” in the conflict zone. Kokoity said that “violation of South Ossetia’s airspace” by a Georgian aircraft is part of these provocations. “We have all the means to down these so called ‘unidentified’ aircrafts which violate [airspace]. Up to now, the South Ossetian airspace has been violated 7 times since April 29. This is a provocation,” the South Ossetia leader said.


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