Officials in Tbilisi said shortly after Dimitri Sanakoev, a rival ‘President’ to secessionist leader Eduard Kokoity, was inaugurated on December 1 that there is “a new reality” in South Ossetia that should be taken into consideration by the international community.
Tbilisi-loyal Sanakoev’s inauguration ceremony was held in the Georgian village of Kurta, few kilometers northeast of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. Kurta is expected to become the headquarters of Sanakoev’s government, which is currently under formation.
“I, the President of the Republic of South Ossetia, declare before God and Nation that I will protect the interests of the South Ossetian people... I will take care of the security, well-being and revival of South Ossetia and its people,” Dimitri Sanakoev said in his presidential oath, which he gave in the Ossetian and Georgian languages.
In a clear gesture of support Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Merab Antadze – in charge of South Ossetia peace talks – was in Kurta to participate in the inauguration ceremony.
“We are now facing a new reality. Here we have a new force, which has a huge influence not only among Georgians but also among the Ossetian society and this new force enjoys huge support. So everyone, not only in Georgia but also the international community, should take this new reality into account. From our part, we will still follow our path of peace and stability,” Merab Antadze said.
Antadze’s statement signals the Georgian side’s attempts to use the Tbilisi-loyal South Ossetian government as a tool to argue that there is “a different voice” in South Ossetian society whose position should also be taken into consideration in the conflict resolution process.
A group of parliamentarians, including MP Guram Vakhtangashvili from South Ossetia’s Georgian-populated Didi Liakhvi constituency and MP Giorgi Asanidze from the ruling National Movement party were also present at the inauguration.
“This is a historic day. A year ago no one could imagine that South Ossetian flags could appear here in the Georgian-populated village,” Vladimir Sanakoev, co-founder of the Salvation Union of South Ossetia, said.
There were large number of tricolor flags (white, red, and yellow, top to bottom) – also used by the South Ossetian secessionist authorities as the Ossetian national flag – flown alongside the Georgian national flag in Kurta. South Ossetian flags are usually displayed in Tskhinvali and other secessionist-controlled territories of the breakaway region alongside of the Russian national flag.
“This is a celebration of peace,” Dimitri Sanakoev told reporters after the ceremony.
He has already launched formation of his government, which will consist of 12 ministers – three of which have already been nominated. Reportedly there will be no position of Defense Minister in Sanakoev’s government.
Uruzmag Karkusov is expected to take over the position of Prime Minister. Karkusov was in charge of the administration of the alternative presidential polls that were held in parallel to the secessionist-organized presidential elections on November 12.
Karkusov’s brother - Jemal Karkusov – will be Interior Minister. Jemal Karkusov was a former Interior Minister in the secessionist government who was arrested in April 2005, reportedly after having disagreements with Eduard Kokoity. Jemal Karkusov escaped from a Tskhinvali prison in November, 2005 in a jailbreak which the Georgian Interior Ministry claimed responsibility for.
Maia Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili will be appointed as the Foreign Minister. Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili is a head of the Tbilisi-based non-governmental organization Iber-Ironi Georgian-Ossetian Union.
“The remaining ministerial positions will be occupied in the next ten days maximum,” Chigoeva-Tsaboshvili told Civil Georgia on December 1. The plans of the alternative South Ossetian government are expected to be clear by that time as well.