Starting from May 1 the Georgian authorities will take steps towards creating “a transitional administration” in South Ossetia. Tbilisi will cooperate with “all parties” in the conflict, President Saakashvili said on April 23.
President Saakashvili’s remarks were made at a session of the National Security Council, which discussed the law on creating a provisional administrative entity in South Ossetia, aiming at the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“I think that the time has come to move on to particular proposals and take courageous steps towards political settlement… We want to move from words to concrete deeds starting from May 1,” President Saakashvili said.
Tbilisi Proposed Five-Point Plan
President Saakashvili said that the Georgian authorities were proposing a five-point plan on conflict resolution to “all those forces, which were fighting against the Georgian authorities in the past years.”
In particular, the Georgian side offers Eduard Kokoity’s secessionist authorities and Sanakoev-led alternative government to create a provisional administration in South Ossetia, to work over the region's autonomous status and introduce a position of the head of the provisional administration.
The Georgian authorities will also allow the provisional administration to appoint deputy ministers of internal affairs, finance, economics, education and science, healthcare and social protection, culture, justice, agriculture, and environment, who would be responsible for issues relating to the region.
“In future, when the autonomous entity is created, we are ready to grant this autonomous entity, which will represent ethnic Ossetians, higher representation in the central authorities of Georgia,” President Saakashvili said.
A special financial package is also on offer for rehabilitation and further development of the region.
“I want to stress that all these moves are directed towards ensuring the safety and well-being of ethnic Georgians and Ossetians living in the region, establishing peace among all ethnic groups in order to avoid any future threats to our unity. We intend to take vigorous steps in this direction,” Saakashvili said.
President Saakashvili said that he expected the sides to respond to the new proposals before May 1. Then a proposal on the creation of the administrative entity would be submitted to the Georgian Parliament for ratification.
However, the President also noted that “our proposal is not limited in time and we are ready to give everybody an opportunity to participate in the resolution and decision making process.”
Ineffective Negotiating Format
Speaking at the National Security Council, President Saakashvili stressed the ineffectiveness of the current negotiating format. He also noted that the local population should be involved in the negotiating process.
“The representatives of all ethnic groups have got tired of long, purposeless negotiations and the absence of real talks. Today we see that the majority of the local population does not participate in the negotiations,” Saakashvili said.
He also said that the goal of the new administrative entity was to represent the local multi-ethnic society as much as possible, “the people who want peace and who really represent one community.”
Tbilisi-loyal alternative leader Dimitri Sanakoev, who participated in the discussions at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s 65th Rose-Roth seminar in Tbilisi on April 20, has been pushing for the involvement of the alternative government in the negotiating process.
“Our task is to represent these people in all formats of negotiations, as the current format does not provide such an opportunity. But, our initiative is the means to return a voice to all representatives of society, who want to bypass the current deadlock,” Saakashvili said.
Currently negotiations on conflict resolution are carried out in the framework of the quadripartite Joint Control Commission (JCC) uniting the Georgian, South Ossetian, Russian and Russia’s North Ossetian sides.
President Saakashvili reiterated on April 23 that the Georgian authorities were ready “to formally or informally” continue talks within any format.
“We are ready to talk to everybody, including the representatives of Russia,” he added.
However, he also stressed that the public’s patience was not endless. “We, as the authorities, are ready to be patient, flexible and at the same time, we are disposed to act quickly, constructively and receive the results. We have the full political support of all political forces on this issue,” Saakashvili noted.
“We offer a hand of peace and friendship to all our compatriots, regardless of their ethnic origin, all those people, who for various reasons were not integrated into our state structures until now,” Saakashvili said.
“We want that ethnic Ossetians regain their role in, and take a greater part in, state management, as well as to have full self-government, which will be created by all of us, together,” he added.