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South Ossetia dissatisfied with course of Geneva talks

Tskhinvali, 1 July: Boris Chochiyev, South Ossetian [separatist] president's plenipotentiary representative on post-conflict settlement, told Interfax on the telephone on Wednesday [1 July] that the latest round of consultations on the Caucasus, which started in Geneva, is proceeding in a tense atmosphere.

"The problem of security within the framework of the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreements, under which Russian troops should leave the security zone after a document guaranteeing non-use of force is adopted, is being discussed in the first group. Unfortunately, the document has not been adopted up to now," Chochiyev said, noting that the discussion of this issue started in May.

"According to the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, which guarantees security of [Georgia's breakaway regions of] South Ossetia and Abkhazia, we proposed versions of an agreement on non-use of force, but we cannot see similar proposals from co-chairmen of the Geneva discussions," Chochiyev noted.

He said that the Georgian side "submitted a very cynical draft agreement between Russia and Georgia on non-use of force".

"These drafts are now being discussed," the South Ossetian representative said.

"We raised the acute problems of a general format of the Geneva discussions and their co-chairmen which are being discussed now, as the United Nations is no longer working in Abkhazia and the OSCE is no longer working either in Georgia or South Ossetia. We are now raising the problem of revising the format of chairmanship at these meetings," Chochiyev said.

Touching on prospects for organizing OSCE's work in South Ossetia, Chochiyev said: "We, for our part, said that if the OSCE does not agree to open its mission in South Ossetia as an independent state, we will raise the problem of revising OSCE's being a co-chair in Geneva and its participation in the operation of the mechanism for preventing incidents".

Chochiyev reminded that the South Ossetian side refused to participate in the last two meetings for preventing incidents with Georgia first and foremost because of the unresolved problem of chairmanship. "We proposed one more compromising version today, which envisages South Ossetia and Georgia chairing these meetings by turns. The Georgian side refused, saying that only representatives of the EU can chair them. This does not suit us," Chochiyev noted.

"Another reason for our refusal to participate (in meetings with Georgia) is that the fate of our citizens illegally kidnapped by the Georgian special services remains unknown up to now. The most important reason is that a document on non-use of force has not been signed yet," he said.

Chochiyev noted that in response to South Ossetian's statement at the Geneva consultations that Georgia is preparing for a new round of aggression, a high-ranking diplomat representing the United States [US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State] Matthew Bryza said that he could not see any signs of Tbilisi preparing for war.

Chochiyev said that Bryza had admitted that the United States is actively helping to re-equip the Georgian army in order to make it civilized and modern. "It follows that the United States is preparing the Georgian army to enable it to kill our citizens in a 'civilized' manner in the next war," Chochiyev said.

Amid the talks continuing in Geneva, Chochiyev said that it is planned to hold the next round of Geneva discussions in September.