Georgia Seeks EU Assistance in Conflict Settlement

BRUSSELS (Itar-Tass/Civil Georgia)–Georgia has appealed to the European Union to help resolve conflicts in its defiant provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia–Georgian state minister for conflict settlement Georgy Khaindrava–told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

Khaindrava is part of a delegation–led by Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili–attending a session of the EU-Georgian Cooperation Council in Brussels.

According to Khaindrava–the current session of the Council has concentrated on conflicts with the self-proclaimed entities on Georgian territory. At a meeting with the Head of European Union Foreign Affairs Javier Solana–the Georgian delegation brought up the issue of the "internationalization" of these conflicts.

"The meeting was very encouraging because it noted our point of view on how the conflicts could be solved," the minister said.

"The presence of European observers and a wide presence of the European community on the whole would be of help," the minister added.

He added that the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be solved within the existing frameworks of the OSCE; however–he believes its role should be more active.

"They must not remain outside observers–but should directly influence the situation," the Georgian state minister said.

Meanwhile–South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said in a live interview to the Moscow-based radio station Echo Moskvy on September 15 that the will of the people living in South Ossetia should become a decisive factor in the discussion of a future political status of the republic–emphasizing that "reintegration into Georgia is out of question."

According to him–"mechanisms of security and guarantees of implementing future agreemen’s should be primarily discussed in order to resolve the issue of a future status of the republic."

"We are ready to use any methods of the negotiating process to stabilize the situation in the region," the South Ossetian leader added. Kokoity also noted that he considers Georgia "a brotherly people and South Ossetia is ready to have good neighborly relations with it."

Kokoity said that South Ossetia should join Russia’s North Ossetia.

"It is high time to stop dividing Ossetia into North and South. There is one big–unified Ossetia and Alexander Dzasokhov [the President of Russia’s North Ossetian Republic] should be elected as President of Ossetia. I do not aspire for leadership. Simply–I want to live in the united Ossetia," he said.

The South Ossetian de facto President has applied several times to merge South Ossetia into the Russian Federation. Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that such a merger is illegal without Georgia’s consent.

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