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Tbilisi to Host JCC on S.Ossetia

A plenary session of the quadripartite Joint Control Commission (JCC) on South Ossetia will be held in Tbilisi on October 23-24.

The meeting, the first in over a year, reflects what appears to be a softening in Georgia’s stance towards the Russian-dominated negotiation format.

Tskhinvali and Tbilisi will push for their own agendas during the talks, which will be held in the headquarters of OSCE Mission in Georgia.

?Demilitarization of the region and disarmament of illegal armed groups, as well as control over Roki Tunnel [linking breakaway South Ossetia with the Russian Federation], which is a major route for smuggled weapons, will be raised by the Georgian side,? Davit Bakradze, the Georgian state minister for conflict resolution issues, told Mze TV on October 22. ?We do not see any rationale for the JCC if it fails to address these issues.?

Meanwhile, the South Ossetian side is expected to push for an agreement on the non-use of force, which, they hope, will be signed by South Ossetian secessionist leader Eduard Kokoity and President Saakashvili.

Boris Chochiev, the South Ossetian chief negotiator, said on October 22 that he would also raise the ?illegal arrest? of ethnic Ossetians by Georgian police in the conflict zone in recent months.

In the most recent case, Georgian police arrested Ivan Bestaev in the village of Avnevi on October 21. Officials have said Bestaev was suspected of attacking and injuring three Georgian policemen in August 2007.

?It was yet another provocation by the Georgian side, which is trying to thwart talks,? Chochiev said in comments posted on the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee?s website. ?But talks will be held despite this provocation.?

The JCC involves negotiators from the Georgian, South Ossetian, Russian and Russia?s North Ossetian sides. Tbilisi has been trying for more than a year to scrap this Russian-dominated negotiation format.

In a recent blow to the JCC, Georgia downgraded its presence in the body in August, with the replacement of State Minister Davit Bakradze in the commission by his deputy, Dimitri Manjavidze.

On September 5, following the August 6 missile incident, Bakradze said that before the JCC session could convene, Russia had ?to answer several questions from the Georgian side?, including some concerning the missile incident. He said incidents of this kind undermined Russia?s role as a mediator.

Bakradze, however, is expected to participate in the JCC session on October 23.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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