The breakaway South Ossetian authorities criticized a group of western diplomats on September 12 for their stance on a September 3 incident, when a Georgian helicopter was fired on by Ossetian militiamen.
British, French, German, Italian and U.S. Ambassadors in Georgia met with the South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity in the unrecognized republic’s capital Tskhinvali on September 12. Head of OSCE Mission in Georgia, Ambassador Roy Reeve, was also present.
The official South Ossetian Press and Information Committee described the meeting as “tense” and said that it failed to bring “any constructive results.”
“In their remarks the group of diplomats focused on the condemnation of firing on the Georgian army helicopter, which allegedly carried Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, by the South Ossetian side… and have qualified the incident as a criminal act,” the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee said.
The South Ossetian side, along with Russian officials, blamed Tbilisi for provoking the incident, citing a 2002 agreement that bans “unauthorized” flights over the South Ossetian conflict zone.
“We consider it to be a top priority to ensure the safety of our citizens regardless of their nationality, and therefore the aggressive statements by the Georgian side, that they plan to settle the South Ossetian problem within 24 hours, force us to be constantly ready for any development of events. The Georgian side’s refusal to sign an agreement on the non-resumption of hostilities makes us adhere to this kind of position,” the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee quoted Eduard Kokoity as saying at the meeting.
The western diplomats' visit to Tskhinvali follows the Georgian side’s calls for more international efforts to facilitate a peaceful solution of the conflict.