At a news briefing late on May President Saakashvili proposed number of social benefits for the population living in the Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetian region, aiming at reconciliation with the region, which de fact seceded from Georgia in early 90s.
“We have particular proposals. We can restore railway connection with Tskhinvali [capital of self-styled South Ossetian Republic] within one week. This will be of vital importance not only for the local population, but also for the rest of Georgia,” President Saakashvili said.
He said that starting from June population living in the breakaway region would receive pensions from Georgia’s budget.
“People living in South Ossetia are Georgia’s citizens and we should take care of them. I have already ordered to start distribution of pensions among Ossetian, as well as Georgian population of the region from June,” Mikheil Saakashvili added.
He also proposed to launch free emergency ambulance service “in Tskhinvali and villages populated by the ethnic Georgians.” “We can afford this,” the Georgian President said.
“We also should provide the local [Ossetian and Georgian population] with free agricultural fertilizers, like other parts of Georgia,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.
He also said that in few days local television of Gori, main town of Shida Kartli region, near the conflict zone, will launch broadcasting news programs in Ossetian language for the population of South Ossetia.
“Later we should launch Ossetian news service at the [state-run] Georgia’s First TV Channel as well; hence our compatriots in Ossetia will be able to get information about developments in Georgia in their native language,” Mikheil Saakashvili added.
He underlined that both Georgian and Ossetian population were “harmed” by the bloody armed conflict in 1992.
“I remember very well the tragedy in Kekhvi, when dozens of Ossetian civilians were brutally killed. I have ordered the General Prosecutor [Irakli Okruashvili] to investigate this tragedy. Everyone behind this incident must be punished,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.