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Media source: “S. Ossetians have determined their independence”

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, January 22
News Agency Interfax informs that at the meeting with the de-facto President of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov, the European Union’s special representative for the South Caucasus, Philippe Lefort, confirmed that the status of the break-away region as a virtually independent state has been determined by its people a long time ago.

The agency informs that Lefort called everyone to accept the reality and learn to live and work accordingly.

At the meeting which was also attended by the head of the de-facto administration Boris Chochiyev, Presidential Advisor Konstantin Kochiyev and Presidential Envoy for Post-Conflict Settlement Murat Dzhioyev, Lefort spoke about the format of Geneva Talks and announced that the issues related to stability and security in the region takes priority at the discussions.

According to the South Ossetian media, Telibov thanked the EU official for his work done within the framework of the Geneva Talks. The de-facto president also stressed the importance of signing a legally binding document on the non-use of force.

"South Ossetia hopes that the discussion of this issue during the upcoming rounds of the Geneva discussions will be more productive," Tibilov said.

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze is going to check the credibility of the information spread by the South Ossetian sources at the meeting with Lefort, who will be visiting Georgia on January 22nd. However, the minister sincerely hopes that the EU official has never made similar statements regarding the status of the break-away region.

“He is paying a farewell visit to Georgia as a special representative within the framework of Geneva negotiations. I will ask him to confirm whether the information spread by Ossetian media is credible,” Maya Pajjikdze said

In the case it is confirmed that Lefort spoke about South Ossetia as an independent state, Georgia will have to react appropriately.

“If the news is confirmed, Tbilisi will take appropriate measures.” Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Zalkaniani said.

Zalkaniani doubts that Lefort could have mentioned independence of the break-away region. According to the Deputy Minister, the EU official had never made statements which would not support the interests of Georgia.

“He as the co-chairperson of the Geneva Talks has always been unbiased and led the process of negotiations appropriately. I am very surprised and I would not want to believe that the information is true and that it is not a journalist’s misinterpretation”, Zalkaliani said. He also added that the Georgian mission to the EU will have to appeal to the organization’s leadership if the Lefort statement is confirmed.

Chairman of the Euro Integration Committee of the Parliament, Victor Dolidze, agrees that first of all, the credibility of the information should be checked. Dolidze said he does not have any info on the meeting held in Tskhinvali and the statement Lefort made there.

Dolidze said that the main role of the EU, UN, OSCE and other international parties involved in the Geneva Talks is to promote peaceful conflict settlement and officials are not expected to call on Georgia to accept the independence of the break-away regions.