Murat Djioev: "The Geneva mechanisms for security incidents prevention and rection are of advisory character"

Fri, 27/02/2009 - 10:14

RSO Foreign Minister Murat Djioev tells about the results of the 4th round of Geneva consultations on Security in the Caucasus.

What are the main results of the forth round of Geneva consultations?
On 17-18 Februar, new round of discussions was held in Geneva to follow the plan of French and Russian presidents. The discussions are meant to contribute to security in the Republic of South Ossetia and Republic of Abkhazia. Usually, the discussions are held in two working groups with South Ossetia"s representatives" participation.
The security working group discussed the problem of elaboration of mechanisms to prevent and react to incidents which might aggravate the situation around South Ossetia. These mechanisms aim at reacting to tensions around RSO and RA to decrease risks of aggravation, eruption and expansion of new conflicts. The mechanisms envisage creation of working groups to meet on weekly basis or, if necessary, more often, and discuss issues related to tensions, react to concrete incidents. It is worth mentioning that after long discussions these mechanisms are agreed at the level of Geneva talks. I would like to emphasize that these are only proposals on mechanisms, that is, they are not legally binding for the sides, they are of an advisory character.
The mechanisms envisage participation of structures responsible for security and public order in their respective areas. That is, on our territory, these are related SO and RF structures based here in accordance with bilateral agreements and upon request from the RSO; on the Georgian side, related structures of Georgia. Participation of international organizations" representatives is also foreseen.

OSCE and EU are insisting on access for their monitors to the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Is South Ossetia able to agree with this, if yes, what are the modalities?
In accordance with Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, the responsibility for security in the zones adjacent to RSP, is undertaken by the EU , and therefore, 200 EU military monitors are deployed there. The duties of the monitors include reaction to incidents and tensions. The above mentioned mechanisms foresee participation of UN and OSCE representatives. I would like to focus on details. As a matter of fact, EU has no mandate to work on the territory of South Ossetia, they can monitor the situation only in the areas adjacent to South Ossetia, meaning the territory of Georgia. As to UN, this Organization had its mandate in the zone of Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. Upon the recent decision of the UN SC, the mandate of the UN in Abkhaz conflict zone has been prolonged until June.
As to OSCE, this Organization has been participating in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict settlement process since 1991. Nonetheless, after August 2008, its mandate ceased to exist and presently it has no mandate for its presence on the territory of South Ossetia.

On 31 December 2008, the mandate of the OSCE Mission to Georgia has expired. However, in February 2009, the Permanent Council of the OSCE prolonged the mandate of 20 military monitors in Georgia. It does not refer to the territory of South Ossetia. As to relations with OSCE, we have repeatedly proposed setting up frames for our future relations. This was also done in written. Now, we are waiting for their response. Our position is that the OSCE can open an independent mission in South Ossetia and conclude a respective memorandum of understanding with the authorities of RSO. Beside, we consider that the mandate of the OSCE mission to South Ossetia should be set by the OSCE Permanent Council, not by the Chairman-in-Office. As to EU military monitors (EUMM) , their access to RSO cannot be discussed. They are meant to monitor risks on the territory of Georgia, which might jeopardize the security of South Ossetia.
In Geneva, we made a statement, where we stressed that we considered it necessary to elaborate and sign a document on non-use of force by Georgia, since it was Georgia, which committed aggression against South Ossetia, and we are demanding that this document is signed as soon as possible.

You have mentioned that the Geneva consultations were held in two working groups. What was the work done by the second group?
The second working group was dealing with refugee issues and humanitarian assistance. There was no agreement reached on these issues. The sides did not come to an agreement on any of the proposals. Here, we have a clear position. That is, we stand for the solution of refugee problem in accordance with internationally recognized norms. To ensure the return of refugees, conditions for dignified, voluntary and secure return should be created. We should talk about refugees of Georgian-Ossetian conflict starting 1989.
As to humanitarian assistance, our position is that South Ossetia would appreciate humanitarian assistance both from Russia and international community, but there is a clear route for humanitarian loads – through Vladikavkaz. Other variants are not yet considered. if international organizations are willing to provide assistance to population of South Ossetia affected by Georgian aggression, we suggest them opening their offices in RSO and work directly with South Ossetia, not through Georgia.

Problems of natural gas supply to South Ossetia from Georgia and potable and irrigation water from South Ossetia to Georgia are politicized by Georgian authorities. Have you discussed these issues in Geneva?
As to commercial relations between South Ossetia and Georgia, we are ready to consider them in accordance with international law. We emphasized that gas is supplied to RSO from Russia through the territory of Georgia, so we speak about transit. And if gas has not been supply to South Ossetia from August 2008 to January 2009, this was purely due to political factor. We have appreciated the role of Russian and OSCE in the solution of this crisis. Unfortunately, the pressure in the gas pipeline fell down in February, and to solve this issue we stand for cooperation with international organizations with their technical expertise which would contribute to the settlement of the problem.
As to water supply, at the meeting with Special Representative of the OSCE CiO in January, we stressed that the issue fell under commercial relations with the neighboring state. That is, we can consider the issue of potable and irrigation water supply to Georgia on commercial basis, meaning fixing up consumption fees. We had discussed this issue with Geneva co-chairmen in Geneva in February.

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