Interview of Akhsar Dzhioev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia, to South Ossetia newspaper

Ахсар Джиоев

Q: On May 28 the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry celebrates the 32nd anniversary. Akhsar Muratovich, what are the priority tasks set for the South Ossetian foreign policy currently? What are the plans for the nearest future?

A: The Ministry of External Relations of the Republic of South Ossetia, which later was transformed into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was among the first government bodies of the Republic of South Ossetia, established in the very beginning of the state’s structure formation. This testifies the importance attached to the foreign policy institution in the state system of the young republic, which found itself in the most difficult conditions, developed as the result of the USSR’s collapse, the lasting military aggression of Georgia against South Ossetia and the full economic, transport and information blockade. One of the most tragic and bloodiest events in the modern history of South Ossetia happened several days before, when on May 20, 1992, armed Georgian militia shot in a cold blood the column of refugees, who were on the bypass Zar road, heading from South Ossetia to North Ossetia. On the next day, on May 29, 1992, against the background of ongoing shelling of Tskhinval, the Supreme Council adopted the Act of Declaration of Independence of the Republic of South Ossetia, which became the fundamental document for international legal and political formation of the independent Republic.

I avail myself of this pleasant opportunity to express words of high esteem and gratitude to all the participants of that historical process and, in particular, the diplomats who were at the forefront of the establishment and formation of the diplomatic service of the Republic of South Ossetia.

While talking about the main objectives set for the Ministry, I have to specify that they are, as earlier, aimed at creation of conditions for preserving peace and stability in the region, at strengthening state security, defending and promoting national interests of the Republic abroad.

The recognition of independence of the Republic of South Ossetia by the Russian Federation on August 26, 2008 and the establishment of bilateral interstate relations marked a new stage of the activities, conducted by the South Ossetian foreign policy department.

Undoubtedly, the priority direction of our work is further development and deepening of interaction with the Russian Federation and its regions, including, first of all, the Republic of North Ossetia - Alania. This is a historically determined process.

Obviously, in modern conditions of the extremely challenging global geopolitical environment, we have to face new problems and challenges. Therefore, we particularly appreciate relations with other states and continue to work hard to strengthen and develop them.

When it comes to internal working processes run in the Ministry, I would like to emphasize that there has been determined a number of fields, in which we are to enhance our work and develop institutionally. There has already been made certain changes regarding the personnel and the structure. In accordance with the existing legislation, a contest for inclusion in the personnel reserve will be announced in short time. 

Q: This year we celebrate the 16th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation. How can you characterize the integration process between South Ossetia and Russia, including in terms of strengthening stability and security in the region?

A: The integration process between South Ossetia and Russia, which has been developing dynamically, is a necessity for closer interaction in social, economic and humanitarian spheres, in questions of foreign policy, defense and security. It is of particular relevance against the background of the developed situation of global military and political tensions. Creation of the joint defense and security area of South Ossetia and Russia became a firm guarantee for peace and stability in the region. Russia assists our Republic in framework of investment programs for social and economic development as well.

One can state firmly that over the last 16 years the South Ossetian-Russian interaction has been productive. The bilateral legal contractual framework includes more than 130 documents of various levels and contents, including, among others, the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, dated September 17, 2008 and the Treaty on Integration and Alliance, dated March 18, 2015. 

Interdepartmental cooperation is developing successfully as well. The active dynamic of the bilateral interaction fully meets our national interests and helps in preserving peace and stability in the region.

We consider it the priority objective to strengthen and improve further bilateral relations between our states.

Q: The decisions taken by international judicial bodies, in particular, the ICC and the ECHR, strike by their one-sided approach and political biasness. How would you comment on that?

A: In a civilized democratic world each crime, committed by one state against another, have to be  at least condemned by international community, say nothing about responsibility and punishment for the criminal-state, which must be imposed on it. However, unfortunately, international justice continues demonstrating its biasness and the desire to act in a perverted and sometimes upside-down picture of the world. We clearly see its commitment to double standards and the inability to react adequately, when the fundamental human rights of some nations are recognized, whiles other nations are denied of that.

The trust of South Ossetia to European justice was finally undermined as a result of the decisions ruled on the events of the tragic for South Ossetia August 2008. To specify, the “objectivity and impartiality” of the International Criminal Court is evidenced by the fact that all questionable decisions ruled out by judges on the events of Georgia’s full-scale military aggression against South Ossetia relate exclusively to citizens of the Republic of South Ossetia. Unfortunately, the heavy war crimes, committed by regular army of Georgia against civilian population on the territory of South Ossetia, which were recorded in multi-volume documents, arouse no interest of the ICC prosecutors.

A similar selective approach to the observance and protection of human rights was demonstrated by the ECHR, when it refused even to consider the claims of residents of the Republic of South Ossetia who had been affected by Georgia’s military aggression. And this is despite the fact that the European Commission, headed by Ms. Heidi Tagliavini, proved and documented the fact that on August 7, 2008 Georgia launched an armed attack on the Republic of South Ossetia with the usage of units of the regular army.

While acting this way, the international justice deprives itself of authority and are deprived of the opportunity to expect its objectivity, impartiality and justice

Q: What is your assessment of the running events and the general state of affairs in the South Caucasus?

A: Despite the fact that the South Caucasus occupies a relatively small territory on the map, it is impossible to overestimate the scale of international players’ interest in our region. The region, where the strategic interests of the largest actors in world politics collide, is a very complex geopolitical platform itself.

We are closely following the events happening in other states of the region, including those unfolding in neighboring Georgia, where there are blatant attempts of non-regional countries to escalate the situation. We fully understand the challenges we are dealing with now and which we may face tomorrow. Therefore, we see our main task in further active work aimed at maintaining and strengthening the existing structure of regional security and stability in close cooperation with the only guarantor of the security of the Republic of South Ossetia – the Russian Federation.

Q: You have mentioned in one of your interviews that cooperation with CIS countries is a correct vector of the development of foreign policy relations. Are there any particular achievements in this area? What are the prospects of South Ossetia in establishing contacts with the Union State of Russia and Belarus?

A: In my opinion there is no necessity to say that the Russian Federation is the main driving force for integration processes across CIS territory. Moreover, we have much in common with CIS countries – history, traditions, mentality and, finally, Russian language.

This is, among others, the reason for South Ossetian interest in integration processes run across the former USSR’s territory and in establishing contacts with the entities operating in framework of CIS. Obviously, this process cannot be speedy, since it is related to a range of complex political aspects. As for the Union State of Russia and Belarus, one has to emphasize that, first of all, we talk about contacts in economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres.

We coordinate our work with our Russian colleagues and see their support and assistance. This is especially important in the light of the unstable global political situation and the ongoing geopolitical changes that require careful analyses and understanding.

Q: The question of the effectiveness of the GID remains relevant. How do you assess the constructiveness of the negotiations in this format?

A: We have emphasized not once that for the time being the GID remains the only platform at which South Ossetia can participate in international negotiations, that directly affect our interests. Unfortunately, there has been no alternative to the Discussions yet. Apart from that, over the many years that have passed from the first round of the Discussions, the format itself turned into an element of maintaining peace and stability in the existing architecture of regional security. Refusal of any GID party of this element will indicate the readiness to global changes in the system of maintaining stability of the complex region of the South Caucasus.

Therefore, despite the lack of significant results, the South Ossetian party stands for continuation of the work in this negotiation format. However, against the background of Switzerland’s actual move from the position of a neutral international mediator, we, together with our Russian and Abkhaz colleagues, promote the relevant constructive proposal to move the Discussions from Geneva to some other, truly neutral platform. The constructiveness of work of the participants and, maybe, the effectiveness of the format could benefit from such a decision.

Q: On May 28 the Day of the South Ossetian diplomacy is celebrated.  What are your wishes for the colleagues?

A: I would like to extend my sincere wishes of health, prosperity, peace, new achievements and success to all those connected with diplomatic service, to those who work for the benefit of our state in the central office of the MFA and our foreign agencies. Happy holiday, dear colleagues!