PM Ivanishvili said that there was no need “to go into hysteria” over installation of fences by the Russian troops across the breakaway South Ossetia’s administrative boundary line and reported shift of the line deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas.
Speaking at Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV’s talk show on Thursday evening, Ivanishvili said that the government did “everything” that was needed on diplomatic front in order to attract international partners’ attention towards the issue; he said there also was “quite a strict” statement from the Georgian Foreign Ministry.
“I have more moderate stance on this issue, because I think that it is more about misunderstanding rather than the policy guided from the Kremlin; that’s my suspicion, although I have no evidence; let’s wait how things will develop,” he said.
“We should not go into hysteria,” Ivanishvili continued. “We have an obligation and we have to mend [ties with Russia] through diplomatic efforts and we will do that, but it’s not an easy task and I have never said that we’ll be able to do that in two days… although it won’t take indefinite time either.”
He said that he instructed the government to provide support to the families most affected by this shift of “dividing line”.
“I think it is a misunderstanding. I have good analytical skills – I am not boasting, although I repeat it often – it is not now in the interests of Russia,” the PM said.
“But there is one small issue, which might be a problem for Russia in general or for those people who are in charge of these developments – we have established very good ties with our population who [lives] beyond that dividing line [referring to residents of breakaway South Ossetia]. Many of them are coming here for [medical] treatment, for trade; there is a mass influx into our side from that dividing line and this [process] might caused alarm at certain level [of the Russian authorities] prompting them to take some decisions.”
“We should not rule out that there might be some forces there [in Russia] who do not like these processes… Many might not like that we are restoring trade relations [with Russia],” Ivanishvili said.
“Or it might possibly be some kind of a provocation; let’s wait a little bit. What is the most important we are not leaving our population,” he said, reiterating that the government would provide all the necessary assistance to the families living in the immediate vicinity of the administrative border.
Ivanishvili repeated for number of times “to wait” and see how events would develop and mentioned upcoming meeting between his special envoy for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague next week.
Karasin told RIA Novosti news agency that activities of the Russian border guard service stationed in South Ossetia would not be discussed during his meeting with Abashidze, because talks on Abkhaz and South Ossetian-related issues were not part of the format of these bilateral meetings. He said that in this format he and Abashidze were only discussing issues on which some progress was possible, like trade, economy and humanitarian issues.
Although Karasin’s Georgian interlocutor Zurab Abashidze said on May 30 that he was going to raise the issue of installation of fences across the South Ossetian administrative border during his upcoming meeting with Karasin, he also added that this issue would “not be discussed in substance” because discussions over such issues were not envisaged by this format. He also said that the Geneva international discussions, launched after the August 2008 war, were the proper format for addressing such issues.
Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, who met Tbilisi-based foreign diplomats on May 30 to express concern over the Russian troops’ actions, said that fencing activities and shift of the administrative boundary line affected about 22-25 kilometer-long portion of the administrative border and the depth of shift of the line deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas was ranging from 50 to 300 meters at various sections.
It was reported on May 30 that a local resident was detained by the Russian troops close to the village of Ditsi for “violation of the South Ossetian border”; the Russian troops reportedly continued border marking activities close to the Ditsi village on May 30.
Sergey Kolbin, head of the breakaway region’s border guard service, said that the Russian border guard troops from the Federal Security Service were in charge of protection of “the South Ossetian state border” and were installing border infrastructure, including fences to mark “the state border”. Authorities in breakaway region deny that there was a shift of the line deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas and say that “the state border” is marked in line with the administrative borders of the former autonomous district of South Ossetia.
During a phone-in part of the talk show at Kavkasia TV on May 30, a viewer called and criticized government’s “soft policies” towards Russia and asked PM Ivanishvili how he was going to build ties with Russia “without making concessions” in respect of Georgia’s sovereignty. Ivanishvili responded that his government had “conceded nothing” to Russia.
“We have nothing to concede and we are not going to concede anything,” Ivanishvili said. “Do you want that same rhetoric [of the previous government]? We know what we’ve received with such rhetoric. Now they [referring to critics] want to portray a situation as if we [GD government] have lost the territories and as soon as we started to talk diplomatically, the [United] National Movement [party] kicked up a fuss; they [the previous government] gave away these territories and we are now trying to return these territories and we will show you that we will return [the breakaway regions]… Wait a little bit and we will restore everything and return everything in several years.”
In separate remarks on May 30, Ivanishvili told journalists that the government would consider deploying additional police forces close to the village of Ditsi if such move “is accepted and supported by the international community.” He also said that the government wanted to ask the EU Monitoring Mission to intensify patrolling by its observers’ in the area