Occupied Tskhinvali region: history, causes of conflict, processes of settlement and occupation - Part III
12/01/2011 13:08
Gocha Gvaramia
Experts' Club

The process of peaceful settlement of the conflict

In the previous two parts of this article we provided our readers with a brief historical review and in chronological order have formulated preconditions - conditions and factors responsible for outbreak of hostilities and escalation of conflict in the historical region of Georgia - Samachablo in January 1991.

Now we want to acquaint a reader as mush as possible with "fundamental document" that was adopted on January 24th, 1992 and which became basis of the cessation of hostilities, peace processes that followed and at the same time completely unfounded accusations against the Georgian side of its alleged violation and that later became pretext for military aggression carried out by Russia in August 2008.

Thus, the basis for the format of regulation of the conflict in the Tskhinvali region and peacekeeping operation was the meeting between Shevardnadze and Galazov, held on June 10th, 1992 in Kazbegi and the Sochi Agreement of June 24th, 1992 on the principles of settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict signed by Eduard Shevardnadze and Boris Yeltsin.

On the basis of the Sochi (Dagomis) agreement Joint Control Commission (JCC) and the mixed peacekeeping force (later MPF) were established.

The agreement between the Republic of Georgia and the Russian Federation signed on June 24th, 1992 in Sochi is a bilateral intergovernmental international agreement concluded in written form, which is regulated by international law. According to Article 2 (a) of the Vienna Convention (later Vienna Convention) of 1969 on the Law of Treaties, such a document is considered an international agreement and governed by international law.

At that one should pay attention to the fact that the agreement is signed by Russia while the South Ossetian side itself is not registered anywhere. This fact can be used by us as an argument to confirm that in fact it was Russia that was an unrecognized party-participant of the conflict, and namely it directly controlled the whole situation and that is why it signed the ceasefire agreement.

The Joint Control Commission, as well as MPF, has been established to implement tasks stipulated in the Sochi Agreement of June 24th, 1992. According to the agreement (paragraph 1 of Article 3) JCC was established with the following objectives:

- Control of the ceasefire;
- Withdrawal of armed forces;
-Dissolution of self-defence forces (all parts of so-called self-defence of the Tskhinvali separatist regime is considered illegal without exception);
- Ensuring security regime.

At the first stage of JCC was a tripartite (Georgia, Russia, North Ossetia), it had co-chairmen from the parties and a decision was taken on the basis of consensus.

According to the regulations of JCC (Annex № 1 of the Agreement of 31st of October, 1994 - Preamble) the following was added to the above:

- Support for peace (but not peace enforcement which was a crucial moment);
- Preventing resumption of hostilities;
-Coordination of joint actions by the parties in order to stabilize the situation;
- Political settlement;
- Economic realization of the affected areas;
- Return of refugees and internally displaced persons;

The Moscow Agreement of 31st of October, 1994 stated that JCC is a quadripartite standing body (paragraph 4). South Ossetian side was introduced there as the fourth party.

The document also noted that the OSCE is involved in the work of JCC.

Article 20 of the Regulations of JCC that was approved by the same agreement, said: JCC terminates its activities after the completion of a comprehensive settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

Now let's see how events were developing.

January 23 - March 1, 1993 - a memorandum on mutual understanding was signed between the OSCE mission and the parties to the conflict. It reflects powers of the OSCE mission and range of its activities.

September 14th, 1993 - Agreement between governments of the Russian Federation and Georgia on the economic recovery of affected areas of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

July 26th, 1994 - Regulations of the Joint Control Commission was adopted.

October 31st, 1994 - agreement on further development of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict resolution was formalized, in which it was noted that the Joint Control Commission, established to meet requirements of the Dagomis agreement, has practically fulfilled its function. Ceasefire was established, armed forces were withdrawn. The parties agreed to specify functions of the Joint Control Commission. Expert groups were created.

December 13th, 1995 - a meeting of expert groups took place, which was devoted to preparing negotiations for a political settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

February 9th, 1996 - Head of the OSCE Mission, Ambassador Dieter Boden said that the draft document developed by the OSCE in December 1995, proved unacceptable to the parties of the conflict. Boden also noted that the process of working on the conflict stretched over time and it moved very slowly.

April 18th, 1996 - a draft memorandum on a comprehensive settlement of the conflict has been developed and initialled between the parties.

April 29th, 1996 - Report of Dieter Boden.

May 16th, 1996 - a memorandum on measures to guarantee security and mutual confidence between the parties to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict was signed in Moscow.

August 27th, 1996 - Meeting of Shevardnadze and Chibirov in Vladikavkaz.

November 14th, 1997 - Meeting of Shevardnadze and Chibirov in the village of Java. Issues discussed mainly concerned socio-economic sphere.

June 20th, 1998 - Shevardnadze and Chibirov met in Borjomi. At the meeting, economic recovery of the zone of conflict and resolving the issue of refugee return was discussed mostly. The South Ossetian side positively assessed the return of the Ossetian population by the Georgian authorities to the village of Mitarbi and a wish to continue this process was voiced.

In July 1998 a document was distributed for the restitution of property of persons affected by the conflict that was prepared by OSCE experts.

January 19, 2001 – resolution of the European parliament. The document was laid on a clause on the return of refugees was included into the document. It was also noted that Abkhazia and South Ossetia were de facto outside the jurisdiction of Georgia. The resolution first recorded Russia's aggression against Georgia, which has been assessed as annexation. In addition, doubt was expressed about impartiality of Russia to mediate in the conflict zone.

April 8th, 2001 - based on the by A constitution (fundamental law) of "the Republic of South Ossetia" was adopted on the basis of so-called general national referendum in South Ossetia and according to this "constitution" it was declared a "sovereign state".

May 11th, 2002 - the Tskhinvali regime raised a question to increase contingent of Russian peacekeeping forces. "Any military action in Georgia – whether it is in South Ossetia and Abkhazia – will predict end to Georgia as a state", - said the newly elected "president" of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity.

March 2nd, 2003 – According to "President" of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity at this stage his meeting with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze would be inappropriate, since, in his opinion, Shevardnadze was guilty of genocide of the Ossetian people. Kokoity declared his predecessor Ludwig Chibirov, who did not abandon contacts with the Georgian side and the president of Georgia, a traitor of the Ossetian people.

May 23rd, 2003 - the Georgian side received a proposal for a discussion to include the police of North Ossetia in the coordinating council of law enforcement agencies.

June 23rd, 2003 – talks were held in Moscow between Russia and Georgia to develop an interstate program for the return of refugees.

October 17th, 2003 - fourth meeting of expert groups of authorized delegations of the parties in the Hague. In 2003 European institutions allocated 210,000 euros to support the negotiation process and thus two meetings of expert groups and 8 meetings of JCC were financed.

On the basis of the order № 183 of President of Georgia dated February 29th, 2004 the third program for rehabilitation of the area of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, funded by the European Commission, was put in action. The program, budget of which amounted to 2.5 million euros, was funded entirely by the European Commission and United Nations Development Programme and United Nations High Commissioner for the return of refugees were responsible for its implementation.

On September 21st, 2004 at the 59th UN General Assembly session in New York and on January 26th, 2005 at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili presented principles of peaceful settlement of the South Ossetian conflict and the peace plan. It was stressed that the Georgian leadership unambiguously supported only peaceful way of resolving the conflict and refused to use or to threaten to use force.

At the UN General Assembly Georgian President defined the principle of a step-by-step settlement of the conflict consisting of the following three stages:

● Demilitarization of the region,
● Implementation of a program of economic rehabilitation,
● A full-scale political settlement of the conflict.

In addition, it was noted that the processes of implementation of projects for demilitarization and economic rehabilitation should be carried out in parallel, and to create an atmosphere of trust should be created for political negotiations.

On July 10-11th, 2005 at the international conference "Initiative of the Government of Georgia in connection with the peaceful settlement of the conflict in South Ossetia" which was held in Batumi, a declaration was adopted, in which participants of the conference expressed support for the above principles for the settlement of the conflict.

At the Moscow meeting of the Joint Control Commission on 24-25 October 2005 (JCC Protocol № 45, article 1.2) this plan consisting of three stages was adopted as a basis for peaceful conflict resolution.

On December 6th, 2005 at the OSCE Ministerial in Ljubljana, all 55 member states of the organization, including Russia, supported the peace plan of President of Georgia.

On December 12th, 2005 so-called South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and the heads of OSCE member states with an official statement in which he practically word for word repeated the peace plan of Saakashvili and its major components. The first stage - demilitarization of the conflict zone, restoration of confidence and ensuring security guarantees; the second stage - socio-economic rehabilitation; and the third stage - political settlement. He also expressed willingness to develop a coordinated program of joint Georgian-Ossetian group.

On November 12th, 2006 as a result of the elections held by the separatist regime Eduard Kokoity remained in power. Although as a result of the confrontation of various clans within the separatist regime some members of the separatist government (D. Sanakoev, Karkusov brothers) fled Tskhinvali and agreed to cooperate with the Georgian leadership towards resolving the conflict. As a result of alternative elections carried out by them in the separatist region simultaneously with the separatist elections, D. Sanakoev won.

The Georgian leadership has decided to cooperate with this group in the settlement of the conflict. By decree of the President of Georgia of May 10, 2007 a temporary administrative unit was created in the region, and D. Sanakoev was appointed as head of its administration. The seat of the interim administration was determined Big Liakhvi gorge in the conflict zone.

Formation of administration of D. Sanakoev has caused aggravation of the situation on the part of the separatist regime. Sensing the danger of losing its monopoly position of "representative of South Ossetia" the leadership of the separatist regime categorically refused any contact with the Sanakoev administration and representatives of the international or nongovernmental organizations that had relationship with the administration of Sanakoev.

The situation considerably worsened at the beginning of 2008, when the separatist regime began to directly sabotage the peace process and refused contact with the Georgian State Minister for Reintegration. The reason for this was the word "reintegration" in the name of the Georgian authorities.

Georgian State Minister for Reintegration proposed a plan of modification of the peace process. Instead of old and inefficient four-side mixed peacekeeping forces that existed since 1992, a peace format built on the principle of 2 +2 +2 was proposed. According to it negotiations were to be carried out at three different levels: Kokoity regime and administration of Sanakoev, Georgia and Russia, the OSCE and the EU. Both separatists and Russia categorically rejected the plan.

To be continued ...

The article used official documents, the report of the Government of Georgia in connection with a full-scale aggression carried out by Russia against Georgia and public sources of information.


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