Hardline rhetoric has been prominent in public statements of parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition parties in the wake of a September 3 incident when a Georgian army helicopter was shot at over breakaway South Ossetia.
Some senior MPs from the ruling National Movement party say that secessionist authorities in South Ossetia pose a serious threat to Georgian statehood and should be “neutralized.” Meanwhile, most opposition MPs are calling on the authorities to undertake “an adequate response against bandits” in South Ossetia.
Even Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze has voiced mixed signals. Speaking at a Parliamentary Bureau session on September 5, she said that despite the helicopter incident, “we are still in favor of a peaceful solution of the conflict.”
But she also added, “everyone should understand that actions of this kind [attack on helicopter] will not remain without a response.”
Some other senior parliamentarians even warned that talks might be unproductive with the secessionist authorities, who they described as “terrorists.”
“It is very difficult to hold political negotiations with terrorists, criminals and with those people shooting at helicopters and I think our political partners should take this into consideration,” MP Davit Bakradze from the ruling party, who chairs the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration, told Rustavi 2 television on September 5.
“The neutralization of this kind of destructive force is necessary and should happen as soon as possible. No state can tolerate the existence of risks of this kind,” MP Nika Rurua of the ruling National Movement party said.
Comments made by opposition parliamentarians are very much in the line of those voiced by MPs from the ruling party.
“I think there is nothing to investigate [in the helicopter incident]; it is clear that it was an act masterminded by those dreaming of Georgia’s devastation. Only a very brief conversation is possible with these people and I think we should use all the means at our disposal to promptly regain our control over this territory [breakaway South Ossetia],” MP Giorgi Tsagareishvili of the opposition Industrialist Party told Rustavi 2 television on September 5.
“The separatists have become so outrageous that they have already started shooting at aircraft carrying our ministers. I think it is not enough just to verbally condemn this fact. The current authorities should now prove that their law enforcement agencies are really effective. The separatists should either hand over those criminals who have opened fire, or the Georgian authorities should capture them,” MP Zviad Dzidziguri of the opposition Conservative Party told Imedi television on September 5.
“Shooting at a Georgian aircraft over the Georgian airspace is banditry, which should be adequately responded to,” opposition MP Davit Zurabishvili told Imedi television on September 5.
Influential parliamentarian Givi Targamadze, chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security, warned on September 4 that Tbilisi may use force to regain control over breakaway South Ossetia even if Tbilisi fails to secure “appropriate” international support.