Iberia Forever

ეროვნულ-განმათავისუფლებელი მოძრაობის შემადგენელ პოლიტიკურ ორგანიზაციათა, საზოგადოებრივ ორგანიზაციათა და პიროვნებათა ერთი ჯგუფის


საქართველოში "ოსეთის" შექმნის კიდევ ერთი მცდელობის გამო



by a group of political parties, public organizations

and persons belonging to the

National Liberation Movement of Georgia

Georgian President M. Saakashvili has repeatedly expressed his readiness to found a "South Ossetia" in Georgia once again, i.e. to officially give one part of Georgian territory the ethnic name of a neighbouring country (Alania-Ossetia) and recognize this part of Georgian territory as a southern part of the neighbouring country's ethnic territory, which means that Mankind is to face the task of uniting two "Ossetias" - one real and the other false, _ i.e. the task of depriving Georgia of a part of its territory, which we regard as a direct and open betrayal of the nation and the state. We deem it our duty to state our stand on the mechanisms of the armed conflict that has been inspired and organized by Russia and is under way in the Tskhinvali region (Georgia) now, and on the ways of resolving it. We will give Georgian citizens, including Georgians and Ossetians, and the world community a few main pieces of information on the factors and conditions of the conflict in order to help to expose the propaganda lies that are being disseminated on this problem by Russian political circles, the Russian media, and the Georgian media that are under the authority or influence of Georgia's pro-Russian government.

Indispensable information

I. Territory and name

Ossetian settlements in Georgia have existed since the 17th or 18th centuries. Although there is a custom in Georgia to give provinces the names of the tribes that have historically lived there (Kakheti is a territory populated by the Kakhetians, Meskheti - by the Meskhetians, Samegrelo - by the Megrelians, and so forth), the name "Ossetia" had not emerged on Georgian territory until the first annexation of Georgia by Russia in 1801. The first man to use this name was the russian commander-in-chief in the Caucasus, Lieutenant-General Knoring, who used it on 26 March 1802, i.e. a few months after the annexation. In his report to the Russian emperor, he referred as "Ossetia" to the Java zone, i.e. the upper parts of the Didi Liakhvi Gorge and the Patara Liakhvi Gorge, where Ossetians lived mixed with Georgians. There are documents that testify how Ossetians settled in Java: Java was "depopulated by Ossetians" who routed local Georgians with their attacks in the first half of the 17th century. The document (the deed of purchase to Kvabul and Zaal Machabeli) reflects the time when the Georgian population had already been extinguished by raider detachments but Ossetians had not yet settled in the area (see DJ. Gvasali,/ Hida Kartli i Osetinska, problema//Osetinskiy vopros. Tbilisi 1994 - p. 80-81). Elsewhere in Georgia, Ossetians have mostly (but not always) settled peacefully.

In the first half of the 19th century, the Russian administration used the adjective "Ossetian" ("osetinskiy") in the names of small administrative units where Ossetians lived mixed with Georgians or surrounded by Georgians and did not make a majority - "Osetinskiy okrug"/ "Osetinskiy uchastok"/ and so forth (See/ V. Itonihvili.Yujnaya, Oseti, v central`noy Gruzii//Osetinskiy vopros/Tbilisi 1994.- S. 22).

The words "Ossetia" and the derived adjective "Ossetian" were several times used in the 19th century regarding specific parts of Georgian territory by Russian ecclesiastical circles, including the Society for the Spread of Orthodox Christianity in the Caucasus. It is known that Georgia's political, demographic, and cultural degeorgianization was the chief goal of this organization, no less than that of the civil and military administrations (see, S. Lekishvili. Kogda voznik termin “yujna, Oseti,"//Osetinskiy voros/ Tbilisi 1994. - p. 229-248).

The territory of the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" (Tskhinvali, Java, Znauri and Akhalgori (under communist rule _ Leningori) districts) that was created under the Soviet Russian occupation does not have a historic name, as it is not a geographic, economic, political or any other kind of unit and has never been one. This is the upper part of the gorges along several parallel rivers that flow down to the Mtkvari river and a few other rivers that flow down to the Rioni river. All are divided from each other by high ridges that have been unusable for communication up to now. Therefore, people move from one gorge to another by coming down to lower areas and then going up to another gorge.

It is noteworthy that the territory implied in the expression "South Ossetia" was never specified either when those words began to be used in Russian or from then to 1922 when the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" was created. It implied all the areas in Georgia where there were Ossetians, not a specific area (village, community, gorge…) where they built a majority. In this connection, one can see, for example, the list of "South Ossetian" Communist Party district committees in the well-known memorandum of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) "South Ossetian" District Committee” that is signed, among others, by the district committees of Kobi-Truso, Kakheti, Gujareti, and Kareli (See A. Mentehahvili/ Osetinskiy separatizm v 1918-1920 godax. Sb. Osetinskiy vopros/ Tbilisi/ 1994.- pp.282-283). This means that all those parts of Georgia where there were isolated Ossetian villages and population, starting with west Georgia and ending with eastern parts of Kakheti, were "South Ossetian" territory for the separatists guided by Russia.

The Russian administration separated from Tbilisi Province back in the 19th century the only part of Georgian territory where immigration had led to the formation of an effectively homogeneous Ossetian population (Dvaleti, in the northern slopes of the Caucasus). So, it was not within Georgia's borders in 1918.

II. Population

According to the 1989 census, there were 164,000 Ossetians in Georgia. The level of their integration in the Georgian society has traditionally been very high (if judged, for example, by the percentage of mixed Georgian-Ossetian marriages). Only 65,000 of them (which is a number artificially increased during the census) lived within the boundaries of the former "South Ossetian Autonomous District" (together with 30,000 Georgians). The people are not autochthonous anywhere on Georgian territory. Their immigration (peaceful as well as aggressive) started in the 17th century, but its main waves that account for the bulk of the total Ossetian population falls on the period after 1864 (when serfdom was abolished in Georgia and Georgian nobility who remained without serfs started bringing down Ossetians on a massive scale from the northern slopes of the Caucasus Ridge to settle them as Khizans, i.e. peasants paying especially high tax in lieu of vassalage), and on the Soviet times when Ossetians were deliberately brought to settle in artificially created "South Ossetia". The entire Ossetian population in Georgia is a diaspora.

III. Social conditions

At the beginning of the 20th century, the entire Ossetian population of Georgia practically consisted of landless rural people. Any census carried out in Russia in the late 19th century already shows numerous Ossetians in east Georgia. However, none of them owned land. This gave rise to the most acute agrarian conflict and deep hatred of the landless rural people (who were Ossetians) against those who owned land (who were Georgians). It was this hatred (and the slogan based on it - "Land to workers!") that became the psychological basis for three Ossetian "rebellions" (in 1918-1920) organized by Russian Bolsheviks against the government of independent Georgia. The organizers deliberately gave them the outward appearance of a rebellion on ethnical (not agrarian) ground.

IV. Legal mechanisms of transforming a part of Georgian territory into "Ossetia"

The decision to create "South Ossetia" in Georgia was made (in 1920) by the Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) Central Commitee, which had no right whatsoever to make decisions on the administrative arrangement of a sovereign foreign country (Georgia was independent at that time). After Russia conquered and annexed Georgia for the second time (in February 1921), the Georgian government (the Central Executive Committee, CEC) passed its Decree No. 2 on the creation of the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" in Georgia (on 20 April 1922) according to the instructions from the central Russian authorities and the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) Caucasus Committee. The fourteen months between this date and Georgia's annexation were spent on extensive work aimed at achieving as much as possible in subduing the resistance to the planned decision of the Georgian population on the aforementioned territory, as they failed to force them to agree to a decision that effectively disregarded their will (the decision was made by the central Russian authorities that simply dictated the Soviet Georgian authorities, who also strongly objected to this decision. See A. Mentehahvili. Osetinskiy separatizm v 1918-1920 godax//Osetinskiy vopros - Tbilisi/1994.- P.249-296).

The autonomous district was named South Ossetia. It included forty Georgian villages with autochthonous and purely Georgian population.

This was done without holding any referendum in Georgia and in conditions of the absence of any elected representative body, i.e. in the absence of any signs of democracy.

The independent Georgia who had been recognised by the world first de facto and then de jure did not recognise the existence of Ossetia in Georgia. On the contrary, in his note to Russia, Georgian Foreign Minister Gegechkori stressed that "there is no South Ossetia within the boundaries of Georgia" (See his 20 May 1920 note to the Russian foreign minister, cit, A. Menteshashvili, ibid, p. 288).

Georgia's first supreme legislative body that had really (democratically) been elected (on 28 October - 11 November 1990) - the Supreme Council of Georgia - was duty bound to abolish the illegal (groundless) autonomous unit - the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" - that had not been authorised by the people. It was abolished by the law of 11 December 1990.

On 3 March 1991, Soviet President Gorbachev signed a decree abolishing the aforementioned 11 December Georgian law. However, he was no longer legally authorised to do so, as the 29 June 1990 resolution of the Supreme Council of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic declared invalid all the acts that "abolished the Georgian Democratic Republic's political and other institutions" and "replaced them with political and judicial institutions that were based on a foreign force", including acts that would empower the Soviet authorities to abolish acts adopted by the Georgian Supreme Council concerning the administrative arrangement of Georgia.

The Tskhinvali act (of 20 September 1990) on transforming the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" into a "republic", as well as the consequent elections to the "parliament" of this republic (on 9 December 1990) and the January 1991 "referendum" on "South Ossetia's" independence and its adhesion to the Russian Federation, were illegal as they were contrary to the Georgian Constitution in power at that time and they are invalid, as the population of the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" as such is not and cannot be a subject of the right of external self-determination, i.e. of territorial secession from the state (See L. Mataradze/O politiko-pravovix aspektax gruzino-osetinskogo konflikta i vozmojnost,x ego mirnogo uregulirovani,. Sb. Osetinskiy vopros/Tb. 1994.- p. 322-338).

Therefore, South Ossetia does not legally exist on Georgian territory today. Correspondingly, neither the Georgian authorities nor the authorities of any other country have the right to use the name "South Ossetia" in their official language.

V. The connection of the "Georgian-Ossetian" conflict to other countries' political and strategic interests

Russia that is the main initiator, instigator, and inspirer of the conflict currently under way in the Tskhinvali region, as well as of the Ossetian separatism in general, is traditionally interested in:

  • Weakening Georgia (in every respect) to regain its imperial influence on Georgia, using it as a bridgehead for attacking or putting pressure on the south (eventually) and blocking the route to Central Asia for the West (currently);
  • Creating its own base to the south of the Caucasus Ridge to obtain control over the Black Sea - Caspian Sea - Central Asia main route (Tskhinvali is situated at the distance of 32 km from Gori, which is a railway and motorway junction).
  • Some European countries are interested in:
  • Obtaining support in the Caucasus in the shape of the Ossetian population on the ideological basis of Indo-Germanic solidarity (the Ossetians are the only Indo-European nation in the North Caucasus);
  • Reinforcing the influence of a certain ethnic enclave in Europe by creating a precedent;
  • Creatng a precedent of reinforcing ethnic separatism for attaching more weight within Europe to the countries that do not have separatist problems within their own boundaries.
  • Certain lobbies are also interested in:
  • Exploiting economically the territory of weakened Georgia and then reinforcing their own political influence and demographical positions there in order to have an alternative territory as a reserve if, as a result of wars with neighbours, they face threats in their own home state;
  • Reducing the potential of the future Black Sea - Central Asia route, as their rival in taking on the role of the eastern bridgehead for western democracy.

None of these aims can be imperative for Georgia. It is the duty of Georgian authorities to protect their own country's present and future vital interests.

VI. Who are the people responsible for making the decision on creating "South Ossetia" in Georgia?

We believe that the international community should know that the incumbent Georgian authorities are far removed from being fully legitimate. The first democratically elected Georgian authorities (since the annexation in 1921) - the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia and its President - were overthrown in a military coup on the verge of 1991-1992. It is now universally recognised in Georgia that the coup was organised by Russia. It was also the latter that brought Shevardnadze to power at the hands of the junta. In the eyes of the public, Shevardnadze has effectively been exposed as being a Russian agent and the implementer of Russia's interests contrary to Georgia's interests. Saakashvili and his colleagues in the incumbent authorities were a team loyal to Shevardnadze for eight years, obediently implementing all of his anti-Georgian plans and participating in the cultivation of corruption. This team has artificially replaced Shevardnadze, taking possession of the state steering wheel through a bloodless "rose revolution" on the wave of broad popular hatred towards Shevardnadze. Parliament within the incumbent authorities is absolutely illegitimate, as it was elected through total rigging, with no realistic voting data being reflected in it. Therefore, the ruling team is not authorised to cede this country's territories and lose them (now or in the future) on behalf of this country. If these authorities create "South Ossetia" in Georgia, this will be a step against the country coming from an illegitimate source. "South Ossetia" will inevitably be abolished by future real (democratically elected and faithful) authorities who will hold responsible those who will have taken the step.

VII. The existing conflict as a precedent for the world

If it becomes a legitimate precedent for demographic changes (as a result of some ethnic groups increasing in number, leaving others in a minority and so forth) to define a territory's political and legal status, this will motivate all ethnic groups to fear the demographic prosperity of all other ethnic groups, which is a direct stimulation of ethnic cleansing and its main weapon - genocide - throughout the world.

VIII. The Tskhinvali conflict from the viewpoint of human rights

According to human rights norms accepted throughout the world, including the rights of minority groups, ethnic and national self-determination does not imply that a group should seek ethnic (national) self-determination by way of creating its own political and territorial units on ethnic and political territories belonging to others. In other words, an ethnic (national) group has the right to self-determination on the territory of a state that does not bear its name only if it is a local minority, i.e. when it is local as an ethnos. The people who have a homeland on Earth, in particular if this homeland is a state or a political territorial unit, does not have the right to demand political and territorial self-determination for its diaspora in another country, especially if they are going to determine themselves by giving a territory the name of their own ethnic group. The Ossetians have their own homeland - a vast geographical area around the town of Vladikavkaz, where the present-day Ossetian nation took shape in the Middle Ages (through the confluence of the Alans and local Ossetians). The Ossetian diaspora in Georgia have every right to live, assert themselves and develop as an assembly of individuals and families, including the right not to be subject to any kinds of discrimination and to eternally preserve their own ethnic (national) identity. However, they do not have the right to use any part of the territory for creating their own political territorial unit and, in particular, the right to give it the name of their own ethnic group.

It is odd but it is a fact that, when the Russian Communist Party made the decision to create "South Ossetia" and the slavishly obedient puppet Georgian government approved the decision by issuing a decree, "North Ossetia" did not exit at all. They created "South Ossetia" at the time when the word "Ossetia" was not used in real Ossetia.

IX. Prospects

The conflict under way in the Tskhinvali region has two aspects. The first (and decisive) aspect is that Russia is fighting for the South Caucasus, trying to create a reliable bridgehead to the south of the Caucasus Ridge. The second aspect is that the Ossetian ethnos is fighting for land and additional territories at the expense of Georgia.

It is lamentable but it is a fact that there are people among the Ossetians residing in Georgia who have strong historical memory of genocide of Georgians. We have already mentioned the depopulation of the Java area (in the 17th century) by Ossetian campaigns. In most recent history, Georgian villages were ravaged and people massacred and evicted from their homes following the second annexation of Georgia by Russia in February 1921, when all Georgia's enemies, including Ossetian detachments that had already done Russia a good service, were given a free hand to act. There are collective addresses from residents of a number of Georgian villages adjacent to Tskhinvali to the government of sovietised Georgia, that describe this process of genocide (these villages - Monasteri and several others - have never been Georgian since then. Only Ossetians live there now). The same kind of genocide is continuing now too. For example, purely Georgian villages of Gujabauri and Mamisaantubani that had been incorporated into Tskhinvali have no longer existed since the 1990s. Eleven Georgian villages have disappeared in Znauri District. The population has been evicted under the cover of Russian bayonets, using (among others) methods like burning a female member of Buzaladze family in her house (the Ossetians have resorted to burning people alive as a method on a lot of occasions during the current conflict. The grave of the ashes of just some of burned people can be seen in the centre of the village of Tqviavi in Gori District). Almost half of the 40 Georgian villages that were forcefully included in the "South Ossetian Autonomous District" according to Decree No. 2 of 20 April 1922 no longer exist now. This is what the Ossetian Communist authorities dared to do in the autonomous district that was absolutely illegal and that has not existed for a single hour up to now without the presence of regular Russian troops there. It is easy to imagine what the Ossetian authorities will dare to do if they are sanctioned to govern the territory by the triumphant Western democracy. We are not so pessimistic as to ascribe the aforementioned historical trend of genocide of the Georgians to all Ossetians. This desire and, in particular, the readiness to implement it in this case, as well as everywhere and in all times, is, of course, clearly given only in a small number of people. However, it is indeed present in this small number of them. It is sufficient to create appropriate social and political conditions for them (for example, within the context of the "noble patriotic task" of snatching Georgian territory for the Ossetians), and this instinct will flare up spontaneously, bringing in new generous crops.

It is in this direction that the incumbent secretly pro-Russian Georgian authorities are forcing events to unfold. However, Western countries, some of which in the shape of the OSCE Mission to Georgia have unfortunately given a thoroughly unrealistic and anti-Georgian recommendation of creating "South Ossetia" in Georgia once again, should take into account that Georgia will not always have authorities of the aforementioned orientation. The fact that they exist is just a historic contingency due to a hard legacy of Russian agents' work in this country and, therefore, they are ephemeral. Any democratically elected representative Georgian authorities will without fail abolish illegal "Ossetia" whose creation is humiliating for the Georgian nation, as it undermines Georgia's statehood. If it is created today, this will be just the postponement of this struggle, not a victorious end of the struggle against Georgia. We do not deny that there is a risk of Georgia's suffering a heavy defeat (as this is effectively a struggle against an international conspiracy against Georgia), however, it is highly unlikely that Georgia will agree without resistance to such a shameful end to its history or will suffer a final defeat.

The Georgian people will not cede the territory, neither will it allow (ultimately) that its currently most wicked and dangerous enemy - Russia - set foot over the Caucasus Ridge on the official and legal basis. There will be constant struggle with varied success, in which the Georgian people will either be victorious and continue to live and develop on their own land or they will suffer defeat and will irreversibly take the path of being gradually wiped out from the earth (as, with breached walls on the Caucasus Ridge, Georgia will become geopolitically unviable).

NOTES: To clarify the issue, we deem it necessary to add a few notes to this statement of ours.

1. For many years now and in violation of all norms accepted in international relations, the Russian authorities have been granting Russian citizenship to residents of Georgian territories that Russia has occupied - Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region - in order to have a pretext for interfering there with military force (although the presence of Russian citizens on this territory is not a sufficient legal reason for this). Neither the Shevardnadze authorities nor the incumbent government have duly responded to this practice. Over the past years, they have not made an official statement or taken appropriate legal steps in response to the combat operations, i.e. wars that Russia is conducting against Georgia, which would mean that the wars waged in the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia are Russian-Georgian wars that are continuing.

All those who want to assess the policy pursued by the Georgian authorities from the viewpoint of their capitulations being mandatory or non-mandatory for Georgia should take into account the aforementioned two facts.

We believe that the capitulations by the incumbent authorities cannot be mandatory for free Georgia in the future.

2. We have already noted that a total of 164,000 Ossetians reside in Georgia, of which 100,000 live beyond the boundaries of the former "South Ossetian Autonomous District". The incumbent Georgian authorities tend to reduce the number of the latter (presumably on Russia's instructions) in order to disguise the fact that care for the interests of the Ossetian population, including its national interests, should be targeted at those 100,000, not only at the 64,000 who seek for an illegal territorial and political autonomy and accession to Russia. Therefore, it should be taken into account that there has been no sharp reduction in the number of Ossetian population at the first (acute) stage of the conflict. Russian propaganda used to speak about 40,000, 60,000, 80,000, and 120,000 "refugees" from Georgia. However, according to the calculations by the Georgian government provisional commission for Georgian-Ossetian relations (chaired by Nodar Natadze), their real number was fewer than 19,000. Most of them have returned to their homes. It is true that large numbers of people are emigrating from Georgia now in search of jobs and there are, of course, Ossetians among them too. However, this does not mean that they are no longer part of Georgia's population (as it is implied that those who leave their homeland to earn money will sooner or later return home).

3. The OSCE Mission to Georgia (chaired consecutively by Istvan Dyarmati, Hungary, Tsvetkov, Ukraine, Hansjoerg Eiff, Germany, and Dieter Boden, Germany) has elaborated and submitted to the Georgian government "Recommendations" on the settlement of the Tskhinvali conflict. Due to its anti-Georgian bias, lack of logic, irresponsible attitude towards facts, and inappropriate political approach, this is probably one of the most derogatory texts in diplomatic practice and history of political thinking. We would like to give a few examples of the authors' judgements.

One of many examples of the lack of logic

It is said in general provisions that, "in assessing the situation, a demand of the universally accepted international practice and OSCE principles is to take into account facts, not the history of their origin," which is a vicious principle in itself (as it disregards the right of a nation, country, and individual to have historical memory and their right and obligation to prevent the use of advantages obtained from previous criminal actions). Two various conclusions are drawn for two specific entities. In particular, "the existence of an entity named 'South Ossetia' with a predominantly Ossetian population" (although this entity has been created by foreign occupants and has a history of just 70 years, not a single day of which has passed without the presence of regular Russian troops there) provides grounds, on the one hand, for a conclusion that the situation should not be changed to the detriment of the Ossetian position and, on the other hand, for the conclusion that, according to the Ossetians' will, it should be changed to the detriment of the Georgians and the Ossetians should be granted a lot of new privileges that they did not have on this territory previously.

One of many examples of incorrect statement of facts (lying)

The Mission said that first Ossetian settlements emerged in Georgia in the 14th century, which is a lie. It was a campaign that Ossetians carried out in Georgia in the 14th century (as part of a Mongolian campaign). However, it has had no demographic results. Ossetians were evicted and they failed to settle in Georgia. Therefore, first Ossetian settlements did not emerge in Georgia in the 14th century. Had they even emerged then, this would not have denied the fact that Ossetians are not autochthonous in Georgia and that they are an ethnic group (diaspora) that has come to settle on a territory populated by autochthonous Georgians.

One of many examples of the Mission's immoral approach to regulating or mitigating the conflict

We can read the following in the Mission's recommendations: "At the collective level, the armed conflict has had different implications for Georgians and Ossetians. Too many among Georgian participants of the conflict had the sentiment that the time has come to change 'South Ossetia's' demographic structure and to 'correct' history. The artillery shelling of Tskhinvali was the last and most brutal result of the policy aimed at evicting and routing Ossetians. … Ossetians in Tskhinvali and around it faced an inevitable threat to their existence for months. Therefore, the Georgian side should act plausibly in order to convince Ossetians that they have a future in Georgia". These words are slanderous towards the Georgian side. Firstly, during the whole conflict, the town of Tskhinvali was open for movement in the direction of Java and Tsunari ("Khetagurovo"), which means that the population could move freely. Secondly, none of the Georgians has expressed the desire to change the demographic structure and to "correct" history. The only desire they had (and still have) is to prevent the false name of "South Ossetia" that Russian occupants have given this territory from being ever restored (strong evidence should be produced to confirm such general accusations, which the Mission will never do and will never be able to do). Thirdly, the artillery shelling of Tskhinvali is a fabrication (by Russian propaganda). This can be confirmed by the fact that no one has ever seen damage inflicted on Tskhinvali by artillery fire. In conditions of the effective absence of government in Georgia, fighters of the `Letuchaya Mysh~ Russian military detachment wandered around Tskhinvali with their heavy hardware. Their apparent "aim" was to offer their services to the sides, while their genuine task (that was obvious for everyone) was to organise provocations (to feign artillery "shelling", using blank shells, and so forth). The immoral nature of the Mission's position expressed in this text becomes evident also in the fact that it conceals the ethnic cleansing and, hence, genocide of Georgians carried out by the Ossetians (under the cover of Russian bayonets), as well as the destruction of two Georgian villages in Tskhinvali District and all of Georgian villages (except Avnevi and Nuli) in former Znauri District during the conflict that was provoked by the Russians in 1989, as well as numerous authentic facts of burning, sawing in two, boiling in a cauldron, cutting up Georgian citizens alive, and using many other kinds of torture against them.

One of many examples of inappropriate political approaches

by the authors of the Mission's recommendations

The Mission says that it is necessary to grant the Ossetian population in "South Ossetia" territorial and political autonomy. However, it does not deem it necessary to specify why autonomy is necessary. If it is needed to ensure efficient governance, the implementation of democratic self-government in conditions of an efficient electoral system would be quite sufficient to achieve this purpose. If it is needed to protect citizens from discrimination, it will suffice to raise the level of democracy in the Georgian authorities' domestic policy (in this area) and observance of human rights on their part, which can be achieved quite easily, as Georgia has signed all international human rights documents. If the Mission deems it necessary to create autonomy because this form of territorial arrangement embodies the right of a nation (ethnic group) to self-determination, it should determine the theoretical and practical connection of this interest of the Ossetians to the interests of the rest of the population of the same region, in particular the Georgians, and the interests of Georgia's population as a whole and find a form for balancing all these interests. The Mission silently assumes that the population of a part of Georgian territory does have the right to self-determination, which is not confirmed by any legal or human rights norm. The Mission's attempt to justify the separatists' actions is a fruitless attempt, as the Ossetian separatists unequivocally demanded South Ossetia's secession from Georgia and its consequent accession to Russia in 1918-1920 and continue to demand this now too. However, if the autonomy should inevitably be created not for a specific positive reason, but only because the Ossetians have gained victory over the Georgians and have, therefore, imposed their will on them, the Mission should know that, firstly, the fact that this territory is effectively beyond Georgia's jurisdiction now does not mean that the Ossetians have defeated Georgia. It was Russia that has defeated it, as (we would like to repeat that) "South Ossetia" has not existed for a single hour in its history without military support from Russia and will be unable to exist in the future either. The Mission should also take into account that (we would like to repeat that) a precedent of defining a political status of a territory according to the dynamics and pace of demographic processes on it is a source of fear for all ethnic groups of the demographic prosperity of others. Therefore, this means encouraging ethnic cleansing throughout the world, including Europe.

II. Our stand

Given the aforementioned and taking into account the fact that our opinion and spirit reflect those of the Georgian nation in general, we declare that:

1. Creating "South Ossetia" in Georgia again means going against both the law and the human rights norms that are currently in force in the world.

2. This means going against Georgia's vital state interests and, correspondingly, betraying the state and the nation.

3. "South Ossetia" will be abolished as soon as real authorities that the nation will have elected in normal elections come to power in Georgia.

III. Fundamental path of conflict settlement

A path of conflict settlement should first and foremost be just and, at the same time, realistic, which implies the use of an appropriate system of checks and balances. This path consists, on the one hand, of as developed mechanisms for democratic self-government as possible and, on the other, of functional (not territorial) autonomy for Georgia's entire Ossetian population, as well as for all others, including the Georgians (See L. Mataradze, On political and legal aspects of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict and opportunities for its resolution//Osetinskiy vopros - Tbilici/1994. - P. 322-330 [in Rusian]).

Functional autonomy implies the following:

1. Local self-government develops as much as possible on the basis of democratic elections, which provides guarantees for the majority that it will be able to implement all its legal interests in accordance with its local jurisdiction. It is natural that, in the areas where Ossetians are in the majority, they will have guaranteed prevalence in resolving problems within the jurisdiction of local bodies. Correspondingly, there can be no negative discrimination (oppressing) of Ossetians in such areas. The rights of non-Ossetians (i.e. the minority) in such areas will be protected as provided by the law. They will be protected in the same manner as the rights of Ossetians or any other minority in all other places in Georgia where those others are not in the majority.

The powers of local self-government bodies will be separated from the powers of higher government bodies, including state bodies, as well as from lower bodies according to the legislation on the basis of the rules common for the entire country, including regions populated by non-Georgians (except Abkhazia).

Division of the upper parts of the Prone, Liakhvi, Lekhura, and Ksani gorges into administrative areas can continue until the best option is found, i.e. an option that will minimise interethnic conflicts arising on everyday basis (although this revision is not at all a must). Those interests of the local population (in this case - the Ossetians) that cannot be satisfied within the jurisdiction of local bodies (for example, universal education for all ethnic groups in their own language, i.e. providing money for this purpose) will be ensured by the state on the basis of the law or other norms.

It is desirable for minorities' rights as defined above to be the same for all those minorities whose ethnic groups (nationalities) have their own ethnic territories beyond the boundaries of the Georgian state where they reside, forming a political unit, as, in this case, inequality may give rise to aspirations toward the expansion of rights and, hence, conflicts. However, taking into account circumstances and specific situations, certain asymmetric approaches are also acceptable.

2. Functional autonomy develops together with democratic local self-government, the optimal form of which is Ossetian ethnic community or association, which, if they want, may embrace all Ossetians residing in Georgia. The community may be entitled to put forward economic, cultural, and all other kinds of initiatives aimed at protecting and preserving Ossetian ethnic identity, increasing their influence within this country, improving their economic well-being, developing culture and economy, and reaching any other lawful goals of ethnic significance. It can be a constant basis or background for creating in accordance with the law political movements that will have goals and programmes of interest for the Ossetians. The community can, through the parties supported by the Ossetian population residing in Georgia and through other lawful means, influence parliamentary elections and resort to any other lawful means of self-organisation at the state level. Correspondingly, the Ossetians (as other ethnic minorities) can influence the policy pursued by the centre proportionally to their number. In addition, they, like any other ethnic group (including Georgians), will have the opportunity to obtain influence and well-being proportional to their own skills.

It is this principal mechanism for ethnic self-organisation, not the organisation of the local majorities of a particular ethnic group on the territorial basis, that will probably prove to be particularly promising and fruitful for Ossetians, as well as for Georgians and probably all other diasporas throughout the world, in providing guarantees for the preservation and protection of their ethnic identity (i.e. guarantees that do not need active actions on the part of representatives of a specific minority). It is also a function of unified organisation of an ethnic group to select, for example, best candidates to work in parliament, to compile reasonably balanced applications for obtaining certain sums from the budget in order to satisfy the needs of a specific group, for training national cadres, for planning and lobbying education in their native language, and so forth. Should a conflict with ethnic (national) overtones emerge, the existence of this central mechanism of self-organisation on the grassroots level will make it easier to find a decision that will correspond to the interests of the whole diaspora, to eliminate anger, the striving towards revenge and other destructive fits of passion in the process of decision making.

We can refer to two circumstances that make this method indispensable for resolving interethnic relations in Georgia. Firstly, ethnic minorities were traditionally regarded in Georgia (before 1801) as having their own mechanisms for self-regulation and leaders, and these leaders were believed to embody the given minorities' rights and obligations in general. Secondly, In Georgia, as well as in the Caucasus in general, the preservation of ethnic identity traditionally occupies one of the top places on the scale of values. From this viewpoint, it is no less important than the right of an individual to be protected from national (ethnic) discrimination.

The aforementioned unified form of self-organisation of the Ossetians in Georgia can be denoted as "community", "ethnic association", "centre", "committee", "council", "union" or otherwise. Mechanisms for its creation and periodical renovation may be ensured through a democratic procedure of elections or in some other way of providing democratic representation among its members or among those willing to join it. A mechanism may also be found to define the form of a specific minority's participation in parliament in line with the future constitution. In any case, the aforementioned Ossetian organisation should have the opportunity to establish contacts, to the extent and in the forms provided by the law, with governmental, nongovernmental, and international organisations outside Georgia. A mechanism should be found for their participation in all other processes that are important specifically for the Ossetians.

If the Ossetians in Georgia obtain the aforementioned form of ethnic self-organisation and self-regulation, they will indeed participate in building the state. This will mean real integration without assimilation.

The mechanism for non-constitutional (temporary, one-off) settlement

The mechanism for the settlement of the current Georgian-Ossetian conflict, if considered isolated from the external factor, consists in attaching to the aforementioned Ossetian organisation (that embraces Ossetians throughout Georgia) the function of a side (or mediator) in negotiations at the scene. This structure may be located in Tskhinvali or elsewhere, it may have the right to display its own symbols, to access any kind of information, to establish bilateral contacts with North Ossetia's (i.e. real Ossetia's) authorities and people in Vladikavkaz (in order not to give rise to doubts that common Ossetian interests are not sacred for them), and it should participate in the resolution of issues like:

a) Retaining or revising the borders of districts;

b) Building roads in the conflict zone;

c) Making decisions on the expedience of creating advisory and governing structures embracing several districts;

d) Defining ways of ensuring order and staffing law enforcement bodies;

e) Defining forms of regulating the educational system and cultural life;

f) Making decisions on other forms of administrative regulation, as well as considering submitted applications.

The best tactics for emerging from the current crisis

and moving to a final (regulated) state

Georgian authorities loyal to their own country can ensure that such a transition is carried out painlessly against the background of political and physical force, but without using it. The tactics (that will be supplemented by specific steps depending on the situation) is as follows:

1. The Georgian authorities officially declare that Russia is waging an aggressive war against Georgia and officially address appropriate international organisations, including the United Nations and courts. On this basis, they either withdraw Russian armed forces from the conflict zones (and from Georgia in general) or, if the Russians refer to the "protection" of their citizens as a pretext (although this pretext goes contrary to the international law), they qualify Russia's claims as illegal, making Russia's physical presence in the Tskhinvali region illegitimate with all the ensuing consequences (for example, Russia will be deprived of the right to open fire and so forth).

2. At the same organisations (including courts), Georgia protests against Russia's policy of granting Russian citizenship to Georgian citizens residing in the conflict zones and declares visa regime for Russian citizens (providing certain timeframes for them).

3. At the same time, the Georgian authorities publish and send out to all international organisations, as well as to all competent expert`s a model for the final just settlement in the Tskhinvali region (in accordance with the aforementioned "integration without assimilation" principle and in the shape of functional autonomy) and declare their readiness to thankfully receive advice (but, of course, not instructions) from people and organisations with a knowledge of the issue. The same text is published in Georgian and Ossetian and is widely disseminated among the population with the same request (for advice).

4. Taking into account reasonable proposals (if any), the Georgian parliament defines a particular model for the Tskhinvali region and approves this model as a constitutional norm.

5. The Georgian authorities file an official criminal suit against those who have attempted to violate Georgia's territorial integrity by force, as well as against those who have committed crimes against individuals in the Tskhinvali region. The leaders of the armed separatist movement (including Kokoyty) are officially incriminated and are put on a wanted list. This means that those who are not on this list will automatically be excluded from the groups that should be subject to punishment, which will make it easier to reassure the population.

6. At the same time, stricter laws are passed against armed attempts to violate Georgia's territorial integrity, envisioning extreme penalty.

7. Police force is created that is able to both return the Georgian refugees to their homes and carry out operations to detain wanted criminals and control the Roki tunnel. Representatives of international organisations will be invited to supervise the operation.

8. A provisional administration is created. It will have broad powers in carrying out the operation.

It is obvious that the aforementioned steps imply the presence of force, which is not, however, the only factor. The presence of force will be minimized (but not eliminated completely) if a vast majority of people now residing in the Tskhinvali region are indirectly exempt from legal liability (see Paragraph 5 above);

There will presumably be no armed resistance if sufficient force is concentrated and if Russia is legally neutralized. However, if resistance is nevertheless put up, Russia will be unable to participate in it directly (openly) and will have to act indirectly, i.e. by dispatching its armed citizens (Cossacks, "volunteers", and North Ossetians) across the border. Georgia should be ready to overcome this unofficial (and, hence, incomparably weaker) aggression.

Popular Front of Georgia N. Natadze

International Public Movement "Caucasus Harmony" G. Chkhaidze

Assembly of Georgian Historical

Nobility Families and their Adherents. I. Muchraneli

People`s Party of Georgia M. Giorgadze

"Freedom" Political Movement K. Gamsakhurdia

Imedi - Veterans of Military Detachment

"Imedi" Association Colonel of Reserve D. khomasuridze

National-Christian Party P. Nazarishvili

Chavchavadze Society T. Chkheidze