Interview of the South Ossetian Foreign Minister Akhsar Dzhioev to South Ossetia Newspaper

Ахсар Джиоев

Q: Akhsar Muratovich, what are the priorities of the South Ossetian foreign policy currently?

A: The main objective of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia is implementation of the foreign policy course, defined by the South Ossetian President, aimed at maintaining national interests of South Ossetia, protection of its sovereignty as well as citizens living abroad, creation of favorable external conditions for the development of the state.

At the background of ongoing global transformation of the world order, when international relations are facing systemic crisis, the diplomacy of South Ossetia continues to implement consistently its tasks, responding to new challenges in a balanced and timely manner.

Undoubtedly, further development and deepening of friendly relations with our strategic partner - the Russian Federation and its subjects, primarily with the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, remain the priority direction of the South Ossetian foreign policy.

The Ministry conducts systematic work on development and deepening cooperation with the states that have recognized our independence, as well as on establishment ties with other countries and international organizations. Particular attention is paid to activities aimed at creating a positive image of the Republic.

Q: Are there perspectives of expanding the geography of recognition of the Republic of South Ossetia?

The extension of international contacts remains among the priorities of the South Ossetian diplomacy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to extend the list of friendly countries, develop contacts and organize meetings at various levels. This is a very complex process that requires time and patience.

Our representatives work in various countries with which diplomatic relations have not yet been established, we find understanding and support for the interests of the Republic of South Ossetia in various political circles and promote implementation of projects in sphere of Ossetian culture and art abroad. We strive to develop further the results achieved and expand the work of the Ministry on interaction with diasporas.

Q: Almost 15 years have passed since establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation. What are the results of the development of interstate relations? And what, in your opinion, should our diplomats work on?

The year 2023 marks the 15th anniversary of the recognition of the state independence of the Republic of South Ossetia by the Russian Federation and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, as well as the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Republic of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation.

Over the years, solid foundation have been laid for the bilateral cooperation, which is of a comprehensive nature. Nevertheless, the work on strengthening the legal framework continues.

In general, the relations between the Republic of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation are developing dynamically and are being filled with real content. The Russian Federation remains a reliable ally for South Ossetia, a guarantor of peace and security in the region, and, as a responsible partner, fulfills fully the undertaken obligations in all areas of interaction.

The relations between South Ossetia and Russia have a rich history and deep roots, our peoples are united by spiritual and cultural closeness. An alliance with Russia is the historical choice of the Ossetian people, which, in the light of modern challenges and threats, is becoming even more relevant.

In February 2022, the Republic of South Ossetia expressed strong support for the decision of the Russian Federation to recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR and conduct the special military operation on protection of residents of Donbass from the Kiev Nazi regime. Later, the Republic supported the entry of the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions into the Russian Federation.

It should be emphasized that many our citizens, as well as their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, are fighting shoulder to shoulder with their Russian brothers for peace in the land of Donbass. We regularly hear about examples of heroism and military valor of our compatriots. Low bow to them. South Ossetia regularly sends humanitarian aid to Donbass and has received refugees from the republics of Donbass.

The people of South Ossetia cherish the historically established warm, friendly relations with the people of Russia and appreciate highly the assistance and support rendered by Russia.

Q: Your first meeting at the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia was with Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. What are your impressions?

A: My first foreign visit after the appointment as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was to the Russian Federation, where I met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. While discussing the development of the bilateral relations, we noted with satisfaction that the scope and content of the developed legal framework fully reflects the nature of our allied relations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia continues to provide comprehensive support in terms of promoting our interests in the international arena. This is the principled Russian position. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov stated firmly and clearly that the course of the leadership of the Russian Federation in relation to South Ossetia remains unchanged.

South Ossetia highly appreciates the personal contribution of Sergey Viktorovich, his sincere attitude and commitment to further development of the existing bilateral relations between our countries.

Q: These days we are celebrating the adoption of the Act of Declaration of the Independence of the Republic of South Ossetia. What can you say about this document?

A: The emergence of the statehood and the adoption of the Act of Declaration of the Independence was a logical stage in the struggle of the Ossetian people for freedom and self-determination, for the right to live in native land.

That historic decision fully met international legislation and was confirming the will of the people of South Ossetia voiced at the Referendum of 1992, when the people unambiguously had voiced for independence and had defined clear political guidelines for the future. It was dictated by the need to form our own state, as the only means of protecting and guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of the people of South Ossetia.

For almost 20 years, South Ossetia was overcoming difficult trials. These were sabotage and terror acts launched by Georgian special services, economic and information blockade, repeated open armed aggression by Georgia, which had set the goal of physical extermination or complete expulsion of the Ossetians from their native land.

South Ossetia has survived, but it has survived at the cost of great hardships and colossal losses. The many years lasting struggle of the South Ossetian people for freedom and independence resulted in the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia by the Russian Federation on August 26, 2008.

Q: How do you assess the effectiveness of the GID?

A: Participation in the Geneva International Discussions on Security and Stability in Transcaucasia remains an important area of work, conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia. For the time being the GID remains the only international negotiating platform, where South Ossetia can state its position and voice issues requiring attention.

The GID on Security and Stability in Transcaucasia started on October 15, 2008, in accordance with the agreements of August 12 and September 8, 2008 between D. Medvedev and N. Sarkozy, after the Georgian military aggression against South Ossetia and after forcing the aggressor to peace. The main task of the Discussions is to ensure lasting security of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

For 15 years already South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been trying to sign an agreement on non-use of force by Georgia, which would have strong international guarantees. However, as the course of the Discussions show, Georgian authorities are still not ready to sign such a document. The Georgian party keeps on blocking any initiatives on building up security, using the Geneva format and other international platforms for political propaganda instead of discussing and finding solution to existing problems. This applies to the problem of refugees as well. 

However, we consider the GID an important platform for negotiations. We would further coordinate our activities with Russian and Abkhaz partners and develop joint approaches to the issues, discussed at the meetings.

Q: Certain political and military forces in Georgia do not give up the revanchist sentiments towards South Ossetia. Recent video message from members of Georgian legion, who fought in Ukraine against armed forces of the Russian Federation, as well as regular actions at the border of the Republic of South Ossetia with Georgia prove that. How could you comment on that?

A: Calls to Georgian authorities to start campaigns against Sukhum and Tskhinval, voiced by high-ranking Western politicians and a number of Georgian radicals, are regularly heard in media. It is quite obvious that this is not in the interests of either South Ossetia and Abkhazia, or Russia, or, in fact, in the interests of Georgia itself. Naturally, we are carefully following the situation and assessing possible risks and threats. Within the framework of the bilateral agreements, Russia ensures our security, Russian armed forces are deployed here, and an attack on South Ossetia is regarded as an attack on Russia. Our southern neighbors learned the lesson of 2008 quite well. Nevertheless, we are in constant contact with our Russian colleagues, and our defense ministries are closely cooperating.

Q: The profession of a diplomat is difficult. It is often no less difficult to defend the interests of the country in diplomatic discussions than on the battlefield. Why have you chosen this path?

A: I can say that I didn't choose a profession, she chose me itself. The circumstances have developed this way. And I regret of nothing. Any profession is important in its own way, in addition to a wide range of responsibilities it has its own difficulties and its own high requirements. A diplomat, being a person of the state, defends its interests and positions in a diplomatic way.

Over three decades, our Ministry and its foreign institutions have been making every effort to ensure the foreign policy interests of the Republic of South Ossetia. We have to work in difficult conditions, always stay on top of events, respond promptly to the emerging foreign policy situation and make every effort to fulfill the tasks set. It is very responsible, but at the same time very interesting.

Q: What are your wishes to colleagues?

A: May 28 marks the 31st anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia. Traditionally this day is celebrated as the Day of South Ossetian Diplomacy. I would like to congratulate all those involved on the Day of Diplomatic Worker. I wish my colleagues good health, peace, prosperity, and new diplomatic successes for the benefit of our state.

I would like to address special words of gratitude to the veterans of the Foreign Ministry who laid the foundation of the South Ossetian diplomacy in the most difficult times for our state. In different years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Ossetia was headed by prominent leaders. I sincerely wish the respected veterans good health and longevity.