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Moscow Hails Tskhinvali, Sokhumi for Non-Use of Force Pledges
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Dec.'10 / 01:18

Russian Foreign Ministry said on December 7, that with declarations made by South Ossetia and Abkhaz leaders on non-use of force "an exceptionally important step has been taken towards sustainable peace and security in Transcaucasia."

"We believe, that it opens up the prospect of solving the key issue of the Geneva Discussions on Stability and Security in Transcaucasia – full-fledged legal enshrinement of a regime of non-use of force between Tbilisi and Tskhinval and between Tbilisi and Sukhum," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In what appeared to be a coordinated move, Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, leaders of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively, made separate statements on December 6 both pledging not to use force. The two statements were mainly similar, but Bagapsh made more specific remarks saying that Sokhumi was ready to accept Moscow’s proposal on unilateral non-use of force declarations made separately by Tbilisi, Tskhinvali and Sokhumi.

President Saakashvili made non-use of force pledge in his address to the European Parliament on November 23. Russia responded by saying that the pledge could only be “perceived seriously” if it “is put on paper” and when “it becomes legally binding,”

He said in his address to the OSCE summit in Astana on December 1 that he had sent letters reflecting Georgia’s non-use of force pledge to the Secretary-General of the OSCE, UN and NATO, as well as the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Council and the United States.

Russia, which is trying to position itself as a mediator and not a party in the conflict, said statements by Kokoity and Bagapsh "showed wisdom, political responsibility and a sincere desire for peace."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that international community should look closely at this announcement by the Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders "and explore the possibility of their reinforcement with the available tools."

The issue is likely to top the next, fourteenth round of Geneva discussions on December 16.

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