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Anatoly Bibilov handing a Caucasian dagger to Bashar al-Assad, July 23, 2018. Photo: mfa-rso.su

Tskhinvali Leader Visits Syria, Meets Bashar Al-Assad

Anatoly Bibilov, the Moscow-backed leader of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, is on a three-day visit to Damascus, where he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on July 23 and signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation.

According to Tskhinvali authorities, at the meeting, Bibilov thanked Assad for recognizing the independence of “the Republic of South Ossetia,” and stressed that strengthening of ties would be “in interests of current and future generations.”

“Your recognition was very important for our people; having recognized South Ossetia, Syria has demonstrated its democratic values and adherence to international norms, which defines the right of every nation to find its place among the group of other free nations,” Bibilov said.

On his part, Assad thanked Bibilov for supporting Syria’s efforts “against terrorism and the states that support it.” He also said the visit affirms Bibilov’s respect for the international law “contrary to the majority of the West, which knows nothing but the policy of dictates.”

Anatoly Bibilov will stay in Syria until July 25. There, he will also meet with Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis and Chairman of the People’s Council Hammouda Sabbagh. His visit comes a day after Tskhinvali “foreign minister” Dmitry Medoev signed an agreement on “establishing diplomatic ties” with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.

Syria announced its decision to establish diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on May 29, making it the fifth United Nations member state to have recognized the two regions’ independence from Georgia.

Tbilisi has responded with severance of diplomatic relations with Damascus. A number of countries and international organizations, including the NATO, the United States and the European Union denounced the Syrian recognition.

The Syrian opposition platforms – the National Coalition and the High Negotiation Commission – joined the international community in condemning the Assad regime’s decision, and expressing support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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