On the eve of the next anniversary of the beginning of Georgia's armed aggression against South Ossetia of 2008 Dmitrii Medoev, the South Ossetian Foreign, gave an interview to MK
Q: Dmitry Nikolaevich, on the eve of the next anniversary of the events of August 2008 several Western countries made a joint statement demanding that Russia withdraw recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The statement was signed by six countries - members of the UN Security Council: Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, Great Britain, United States and Albania that joined them. A group of countries condemned Russia for the alleged “illegal military presence” in the republics. Why do you think this statement has appeared right now and what consequences it will have? Will there be any reaction to it from South Ossetia?
A: It did not go unnoticed in South Ossetia that this statement was timed to coincide with the 13th anniversary of Georgia's August aggression against our Republic. It is purely populist and cannot be taken seriously by anyone. This is not the first time such calls have been made and, as a rule, they are accompanied by demagogic discourses about territorial integrity, regional security, human rights, refugees and fundamental democratic values...
In a strange way, these Georgian-American ultimatums are supported by countries that are very far from regional problems.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of our country made comments on this matter, where we once again reminded Georgia and its friends that the recognition by the Russian Federation of the state sovereignty of the Republic of South Ossetia and the Republic of Abkhazia took place only after Georgia's armed aggression against South Ossetia in August 2008, when Georgia launched a large-scale army operation using weapons of mass destruction to destroy civilians and Russian peacekeepers.
As for the recognition of the state independence of the Republic of South Ossetia, it is high time for all friends of Georgia to know that this act is irrevocable, since such serious decisions are based on deep analysis and weighty arguments that are clearly verified in accordance with international law.
Q: Tell us about the purpose of the visit of the Abkhaz leader Bzhania to South Ossetia. Is it connected only with the anniversary of August 2008, or are you planning to discuss some important issues? What activities are planned? Will there be any documents or contracts signed?
A: Indeed, the official visit of the President of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhania to South Ossetia begins on August 6. This is his first visit as the head of the Abkhaz state. The main purpose of this visit is participation of the high Abkhazian delegation in the mourning events that will be held here on August 7-8. Of course there will be high-level negotiations and meetings of the members of the delegation with their South Ossetian colleagues. Bilateral relations between South Ossetia and Abkhazia have a long history, positive dynamics and are fraternal in nature.
Q: On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the signing of an agreement on dual citizenship with South Ossetia. In particular, the document stipulates that “citizens of one side have the right to acquire the citizenship of the other side without renouncing their own citizenship”. For some reason I thought that such a practice existed before. What is the significance of this agreement for the residents of South Ossetia?
A: In South Ossetia, there is a special commission under the President, where citizens who want to obtain South Ossetian citizenship apply. There are also relevant laws and regulations to respect human rights in this important issue. The agreement between South Ossetia and Russia on the settlement of issues of dual citizenship will expand civil rights, provide additional social guarantees to people without renouncing their citizenship of the other side. This agreement has been prepared over the past several years and was under the control of the leaders of our countries, it has been fully agreed by the competent authorities of the parties and is ready for signing.
Q: Let's remember August 2008. Tell us about these days: where did the events find you, what did you do? What have you seen with your own eyes?
A: The beginning of August 2008 is remembered for special tensions on the border of South Ossetia with Georgia. Constant provocations, single attacks against the background of general terrorist activity. By August 7 the number of terrorist attacks carried out by Georgian special units exceeded a dozen...
At that time I was the representative of South Ossetia in Moscow, where we also felt the growing tension. It happened that it was on August 8 that my press conference at Interfax on this topic was scheduled. In the evening of August 7 at 23:35 a massive rocket and artillery bombardment of Tskhinval began. I immediately received a call from Channel 1 of Russian Television and sat live until seven in the morning. Then there were Interfax and Vnukovo airport, from where I left for Vladikavkaz and further to South Ossetia.
Even now it is hard to look back to what we experienced those days. The lack of information aggravated my condition, especially since I did not know anything about where my friends, neighbors, and relatives were. My son, who was there at that time, did not get in touch. On August 9 I was already at my house, next to which a 500-kg aerial bomb exploded. The roof of the house was blown down, all the doors and windows were knocked out ... However, the biggest shock was to see the hometown on fire - destroyed, with traces of street fighting, but unconquered. I found my son in the basement of the republican hospital, where all the wounded were taken. He ended up there with my brother wounded in the head. Tskhinval was thoroughly destroyed, but did not surrender. The Georgian commandos fled on the evening of the 8th, and on the 9th and 10th the final cleansing of the city was under way. We have lost many civilians, soldiers and officers of our army. These days we will remember everyone who died then, defending our land. Low bow to the soldiers and officers of the Russian army who laid down their heads in those August days of 2008.
Q: Strange as it may seem, the discussion about those events is still going on. Georgia insists that there was aggression from the Russian Federation. How would you answer Tbilisi to this? What evidence is there today that it was the Georgians who started the aggression?
A: The discussion is only going on in the minds of the participants and inspirers of that adventure. For everyone else in the world it has long been known that the war was started by the criminal regime of the then President of Georgia. Already on September 3, 2008 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Georgia. For the first time in official EU documents the responsibility for the military attack on South Ossetia was assigned to the Saakashvili regime. And on September 30 the final report of Heidi Tagliavini, Head of the European Union's special commission, who investigated very carefully all the circumstances of the August 2008 war, was published. According to the conclusions of the experts of the international commission, the Georgian troops started the hostilities in August 2008, and they were the first to enter the territory of South Ossetia. But this is not interesting neither to these six countries, nor to Albania, which has joined them. The authors of this statement are interested neither in many years of shelling of peaceful South Ossetian citizens, nor in thousands of innocent people killed; not only this does not cause any condemnation by them, but on the contrary, finds the most ardent support. And this is not a simple ignorance of the origins and essence of the issue, it is just the recently adopted practice of double standards, used as a political instrument.
Q: Despite the efforts of the Russian Federation in the international arena, South Ossetia and Abkhazia still remain in isolation. What are the prospects for breaking through this information and diplomatic blockade? Is there any hope for expanding the list of states that have recognized your independence? Does South Ossetia have many friends in the international arena today? What active international contacts do you, as a minister, maintain? Is the list of these contacts expanding?
A: Undoubtedly, such work is underway, and even the pandemic could not stop this movement. We will continue this work included in the foreign policy strategy of our country. There certainly will be further recognition of the Republic. South Ossetia has enough friends in the world, contacts with whom are the priorities for us.
Q: How is the security of South Ossetia protected today? Are you ruling out a repeat of the 2008 war?
A: Eliminating the repetition of the war as well as ensuring the safety of the population are the main tasks of the South Ossetian leadership. These issues are being solved jointly with the military-political leadership of Russia - our main ally and strategic partner. The legal and contractual base of the bilateral relations that has established for the time being allows speaking about the joint defense area of our countries. There are objective reasons for this, since it is on these days, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the August Georgian aggression, that the multinational exercises Agile Spirit – 2021, with participation of servicemen from Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Germany, Georgia, Spain, Italy, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, USA, Turkey, Ukraine and Estonia, including about 1 500 Georgian and 700 American servicepersons, are being held in Georgia for the 10th time. They are working on the issues of returning the “occupied territories”, or, to be more precise, on the options for the armed seizure of South Ossetia. A large amount of the most modern weapons and military equipment has been delivered to Georgia. And as we know from experience, all this will remain in Georgia as “humanitarian aid”.
Q: Does South Ossetia have any contacts with the Georgian side today?
A: The Geneva Discussions are the only platform where all meetings of the parties take place several times a year. We have no other format.
Q: What are the prospects for Georgia's joining NATO? Can it be accepted without South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
A: Of course there are prospects, but they look like a picture where the owner holds a tied carrot in front of the donkey's nose. It is clear that such a “picture” is beneficial to the owner who holds the carrot in his hands and is determining the course of Georgia, which should be directed against Russia.
Q: Are you satisfied with current level of cooperation with Moscow? What kind of assistance does the Russian Federation provide to the Republic?
A: Our relations with Russia are developing very dynamically and in a positive way. We feel constant attention to the problems of South Ossetia. This applies to all areas of interaction. Despite the reluctance of the neighboring country and its friends overseas these relations will develop further. An illustrative example to this is that we began our conversation with the fact that the next South Ossetian - Russian agreement is ready for signing, and I will note that the number of these bilateral agreements have already exceeded a hundred.
No one will be able to force us to step back from building a sovereign, legal and democratic state, just as no one will be able to oblige Russia to withdraw the recognition of the state independence of South Ossetia.
This is an established axiom.