South Ossetia says it will join North Ossetia-Alania as a federal subject of Russia

Saturday, August 30, 2008

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The above file photo (2004) shows a sniper taking aim at Ossetian rebels in South Ossetia to allow the Georgian Army forces to move forward Photograph: Jonathan Alpeyrie

As the parliament of Georgia voted to approve closing the nation's embassy in Moscow and severing diplomatic ties with Russia, officials in the breakaway territory of South Ossetia are stating that their ultimate goal is not independence, but to be absorbed into Russia.

Znaur Gassiyev, the speaker in the parliament of South Ossetia, said today in Tskhinvali, the capital, that the region will be annexed by Russia "in several years" or earlier. He further went on that this was the position of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity, who met earlier this week to discuss the future of South Ossetia. Ultimately, South Ossetia would be joined with the Russian federal subject of North Ossetia-Alania.

Ethnic map of the Caucasus region.
Image: Pmx.

"We will live in one united Russian state," Tarzan Kokoiti, one of Gassiyev's deputies, said. However, a Russian government spokesperson said there was "no official information" on the talks.

The Vice Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Gigi Tsereteli, warned the areas, which are "autonomous republics" within Georgia, that absorption into Russia would ultimately destroy them as territorial entities.

"The regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should think about the fact that if they become part of Russia, they will be assimilated and in this way they will disappear," Tsereteli said.

On August 26, Russia voted to diplomatically recognize South Ossetia, as well as other another semi-autonomous region of Georgia, Abkhazia. So far, no other member of the United Nations has recognized these republics.

"We found ourselves in an awkward situation when a country militarily invading and occupying our country, then recognizing part of its territories, is trying to create a sense of normalcy," Georgian Foreign Minister Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili said while in Sweden.

"Breaking off diplomatic relations with Tbilisi is not Moscow's choice, and the responsibility lies with Tbilisi," Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.

Russia's efforts to get other nations to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states hit a snag when the People's Republic of China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation balked at recognition.

Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, said that he supports the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but did not say if Venezuela formally recognises the republics.

"Russia has recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We support Russia. Russia is right and is defending its interests," Chavez said.

Russia and South Ossetia continue to work on an agreement to install permanent Russian military bases in the breakaway territory. The agreement is scheduled to be signed on September 2.

Russian military forces continue to occupy nominal Georgian territory in defiance of the European Union-brokered ceasefire agreement.