Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Representatives of Georgia and South Ossetia to discuss conflict resolution on August 7

Представители Грузии и Южной Осетии обсудят урегулирование конфликта 7 августа

On August 7, a meeting of representatives of Georgia and South Ossetia, with Russian participation, will be held in Tskhinvali to discuss the resolution of problems in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone.

The above information was provided by Russian co-chairman of the JCC [Joint Control Commission] and Ambassador at Large Yuri Popov, who will also take part in the negotiations. According to Popov, Russia cannot afford to remain indifferent should there be a change in administration in the conflict zone, as citizens of the Russian Federation are living in South Ossetia.

It should be noted that the evacuation of women and children from South Ossetia has been temporarily suspended. The Ministry of Defense of Georgia denied accusations by their counterparts in the Ministry of Defense of Russia of violating “the Olympic truce." They also denied that traces of large-caliber projectiles leftover from the shootings on the South Ossetian capital on the night of August 2nd were recorded by peacekeepers.

“We are counting on both sides to arrive at a compromise which will help lower tensions in the conflict zone,” stated Popov, who was quoted by ITAR-TASS.

The Georgian side, represented by State Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili, has confirmed the reports regarding the August 7 talks. The State Minister said that he and South Ossetian representative Boris Chochiev had already reached a preliminary agreement concerning the meeting.

According to Iakobashvili, as reported by news agency “Новости-Грузия,” the Georgian side intends to raise issues regarding demilitarization of the conflict zone, the establishment of joint Georgian-Russian border control at the Roki Tunnel, and further discussion of the possibility of increasing the number of OSCE observers in the conflict zone.

“The meeting in Tskhinvali will not be held in the framework of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) for the Resolution of Georgian-Ossetian Conflict, since we consider this format long obsolete. We are calling for direct dialog between the two sides and for participation, by representatives of the European Union, in addition to Russia,” said Iakobashvili.

Today at a press conference in Moscow, South Ossetian representative to Russia Dmitri Medoev called on the quadrilateral Joint Control Commission, composed of co-chairmen from Russia, Georgia, North Ossetia, and South Ossetia, to renew efforts. In his opinion, this would help reduce tensions in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone.

Commenting on the Georgian initiative to hold direct talks with Tskhinvali without the participation of Russia, Medoev stated that the South Ossetian side considered it “as just a ruse,” adding that the South Ossetian position is based on an existing internationally-recognized framework for negotiations – this being the quadrilateral Joint Control Commission, reports RIA Novosti.

Earlier, the “Caucasian Knot” reported that President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoiti stated that around 300 volunteers had already arrived, and that they were expecting up to two thousand people. Regarding this fact, he noted that South Ossetia “counts on its own forces before all others.”

Georgian authorities are saying that South Ossetia and Abkhazia intentionally supercharged the conditions in the conflict zones. According to the rector of the Diplomatic Academy of Georgia and political scientist Soso Tsintsadze, the deterioration of the situation in the region was foreseen and planned by Russia, who is striving to block Georgia’s accession to NATO.

Political Scientist Mamuka Areshidze is certain that the deterioration of the situation in South Ossetia is advantageous to Eduard Kokoiti, who is trying to “draw the Georgian side into a large-scale armed conflict.”

It is worth remembering that, since the evening of August 1st, the Georgian-Ossetian conflict has been intensifying. Each side is blaming the other. South Ossetia has reported injuries and loss of life as a result of Georgian shootings. On August 2nd, the evacuation of civilians from Tskhinvali to Russia began.

--Caucasian Knot, August 5, 2008

Temur Iakobashvili and Boris Chochiev to meet in Tskhinvali on August 7…

თემურ იაკობაშვილი და ბორის ჩოჩიევი ცხინვალში 7 აგვისტოს ერთმანეთს შეხვდებიან ...

Vice prime-minister of the self-declared S. Ossetian Republic, Boris Chochiev, and Georgian State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili, have arranged to meet in Tskhinvali on August 7.

At a press conference today, Iakobashvili stated that the Ossetians had already expressed their consent.

The meeting will be conducted in the presence of Yuri Popov, Ambassador at Large for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russian co-chair of the Joint Control Commission (JCC).

However, as Iakobashvili explained, the meeting would not be held in the JCC format, but rather would consist of bilateral talks mediated by the Russian side.

“The current conditions in the conflict zone are a direct result of JCC’s incompetence, and it has become apparent to us that at this stage direct talks are necessary,” said Temur Iakobashvili.

According to Iakobashvili, the Georgian side hopes that the August 7 meeting will mark the beginning of de-escalation.