Moscow Insists on Talks in JCC Frames

Chief Russian negotiator over South Ossetia Yuri Popov said no agreement had been reached with Tbilisi over the format talks on South Ossetia should take.

Popov told Rustavi 2 TV after meeting with Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration and chief negotiator: “We have not yet found understanding over the matter.”

“Mr. Iakobashvili insists on reforming the existing negotiating format and we insist on maintaining it,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special ambassador, Yuri Popov, said.

Moscow and Tskhinvali want to resume talks in the frames of the quadripartite Joint Control Commission (JCC).

Iakobashvili, however, told Rustavi 2 TV after meeting with the Russian negotiator in Tbilisi: “the JCC is dead.”

There seemed to have been preliminary agreement between the sides to hold a meeting between Iakobashvili and the South Ossetian chief negotiator, Boris Chochiev, in the presence of Popov in Tskhinvali on August 7, without the participation of a representative from Russia’s North Ossetian Republic.

The South Ossetian side initially rejected this format, but then said it would participate in talks. On August 6, Tskhinvali, however, again changed its position and said it would agree to a meeting only in the frames of the JCC.

Iakobashvili said late on August 6 that he believed Russia “currently is really interested" in having talks. He said Russia was even ready to facilitate direct talks between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali outside of the JCC, at least for now.

At about 3pm local time Iakobashvili’s press office issued a press release saying that the proposed meeting in Tskhinvali had been abandoned.

It also said that Iakobashvili intended to visit Georgian villages in the conflict zone on August 7. The state minister is expected to meet Dimitry Sanakoev, the head of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration, whom Moscow and Tskhinvali denounce as Tbilisi’s “puppet.”


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