President Saakashvili met with Tbilisi-loyal, self-imposed South Ossetian leader Dimitri Sanakoev on March 19, less than a week after he announced Tbilisi’s readiness to launch “official relations” with the Kurta-based alternative authorities.
“I wanted to meet Mr. Sanakoev, because I have been watching his activities for a long time already and we have not met until now. And he really has a unique opportunity for peace, as he managed to find a common language with the local population, I mean, both with ethnic Georgians and ethnic Ossetians,” Saakashvili told reporters after meeting Sanakoev.
Meeting with the South Ossetian alternative leader and his administration members took place in the Georgian village of Kurta, few kilometers away from the breakaway South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali. It was Saakashvili's third visit to Georgian enclave of the conflict zone in this year.
“Future of Georgian and Ossetian patriots is what unites us. We are moving into a same direction, which is a peaceful unification of our country… I want to tell you that it is very easy to find a common language between patriots,” Saakashvili said.
“We will continue this dialogue and these relations,” he added.
The Georgian leader also pledged to carry out infrastructure rehabilitation projects in the Georgian-controlled areas of the conflict zone.
“What we have promised – a better infrastructure, better education and culture facilities, better healthcare – everything which will make their life better will be done here,” Saakashvili said.
President Saakashvili announced in his annual state of the nation address to the Parliament on March 15 that Tbilisi should launch “official relations and negotiations” with the Sanakoev’s administration.
Secessionist authorities in Tskhinvali, as well as Moscow have warned that Tbilisi’s ties with so called alternative authorities of South Ossetia will further complicate conflict resolution process.
Dimitri Sanakoev, a former defense minister in the South Ossetian secessionist authorities, was installed as the alternative South Ossetian leader last November.
Meanwhile, Eduard Kokoity, secessionist South Ossetian leader, who currently visits Moscow, rejected on March 19 President Saakashvili’s proposal made in his annual address on March 15 about “broad autonomy in compliance with European standards.”