Georgia’s presidential plenipotentiary for the settlement of regional conflicts, Irakly Machavariani, announced yesterday that Tbilisi has submitted a draft of South Ossetia’s political status to the region’s authorities and to the mediators. South Ossetia had submitted a maximalist draft some months ago and suspended further contacts with Tbilisi until the latter would produce its draft. The central government, however, waited in the hope that the Tsinkhvali authorities would moderate their demands and that Tbilisi could then reciprocate with a moderate document. That could have created a favorable basis for the negotiations. This did not come to pass.
Negotiations are now expected to begin shortly proceeding from two seemingly irreconcilable documents. The South Ossetian draft envisages Georgian acceptance of the region’s outright secession. Tbilisi’s draft would turn South Ossetia into a simple administrative unit of the Georgian state. According to Machavariani, the sides should in the course of the negotiations come down from these “radical” opening gambits.
Tipping Tbilisi’s hand, Machavariani unofficially holds out for South Ossetia a status similar to that of Ajaria. South Ossetia would become an autonomous republic with its own constitution and laws, elected bodies of power, local law enforcement and some other attributes of statehood, forming a part of the indivisible state of Georgia within the latter’s internationally recognized borders (Itar-Tass, December 9).
PARTY OF NATIONAL UNITY BANNED IN TAJIKISTAN.