Fri, 08/09/2006 - 15:00

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia Murat Jioev addressed a letter to the acting OSCE chairman Carl De Guht that says:
«Expressing my highest compliments and respect, I have the honor to ensure you that in South Ossetia the OSCE and your personal input in facilitation of the peaceful Georgian-Ossetian conflict resolution is highly appreciated. For further promotion of the positive conflict resolution process, increase of OSCE effectiveness, the South Ossetian side has recently repeatedly made proposals that would facilitate confidence building and security for the population in the conflict zone and would significantly expand cooperation with the OSCE. We assume that activation of the OSCE efforts for the conflict resolution, including monitoring of the sides’ responsibilities, would facilitate the conflict regulation, provide more information to the OSCE about the actual situation in the conflict zone and a more impartial assessment of the sides’ positions.
At the same time in South Ossetia we are sorry that your statement from 4 September, 2006 on the incident with the Georgian military helicopter in the conflict zone, that happened on 3 September, does not assess the fact of violation of the air space above the JKF responsibility zone but rather the consequences and is putting the responsibility on the South Ossetian side. Actually the incident was provoked by the Georgian side. On 3 September, 2006 military helicopter Mi-8 violated from the Georgian side the South Ossetian air-space above the peacekeepers’ responsibility zone. The helicopter ignored repeated requests and demands to change the course. When the helicopter opened fire, it was fired back by the air-raid subdivision of South Ossetia.
Flights of military air crafts above the conflict zone without prior co-ordination with the peacekeeping forces, responsible for security in the conflict zone, is already a violation of the agreements achieved in the course of the resolution process. If the Minister of Defense of Georgia was indeed in the helicopter, that was a task-oriented provocation, directed not only against South Ossetia but also against peacekeeping forces that are very often blamed by the leadership of Georgia for not fulfilling their mandate.
We are sorry to admit that violations of the South Ossetian air space by the military aviation of Georgia have acquired a systematic character. From 1st January, 2005 to 3 September, 2006 34 violation of the South Ossetian air-space by the Georgian military aviation were registered. In the framework of the resolution process were repeatedly discussed the issues of unauthorized flights above the territory that is the responsibility zone of trilateral peacekeeping forces. These flights were found dangerous for conflict escalation, decisions were made and signed by all the sides participating in the resolution process and the OSCE. In particular: JCC decision dated 30 June, 2002 (JCC Protocol No.24, attachment No.2): “Consider all unauthorized flights above the JPKGF responsibility zone as dangerous operations, directed at breaking down of the peace process”; JCC Decision dated 16-17 March,2005 (Protocol No.42, attachment): “Co-chairman from the Georgian side of the JCC together with the JPKF Commander to take measure during a week for absolute observance of agreements on denial of unsanctioned flight above the conflict zone”. This is also mentioned in the letter from the Head of the OSCE Mission, Ambassador Roy Reev addressed to the JCC Co-Chairmen and the JPKF Commander (No 006725 dated 18 April, 2005 года): “Although, I have to admit that flights above the conflict zone/JPKF responsibility area is violation of agreements in the framework of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict resolution. They are another unnecessary reasons for tension. Members of my Mission have discussed these issues a number of times with the representatives of the Georgian side, also before the incident on 26 March. I sincerely hope that with introduction of the Georgian air transport control system these incidents will be exhausted”.
Still the Georgian side is able to consider these statements on the possibility of flights of the Georgian military aviation above the conflict zone as justification of their activities, directed at further escalation of tension.
Fully sharing your opinion that both sides should refrain and activate a dialogue oriented at achieving political results, the leadership of South Ossetia again suggests to carry out a meeting between the sides on a highest level in the framework of the existing negotiation format with participation of the Acting OSCE Chairman to enable the President of South Ossetian and Georgia to sign a document on abstention from the use of force or threat to use force. This would be an important and effective step in the resolution process.
Your Excellency, highly appreciating the presence of the OSCE in the conflict zone, we again confirm our readiness for co-operation directed at peaceful regulation of the Georgian-Ossetia relations”.

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