The parties to the Mixed Control Commission (MCC) on Georgian-Ossetian settlement signed a final protocol at a meeting in Moscow after two days of heated discussions. "The document appeals to Tbilisi and Tskhinvali not to use force in settling their conflict," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin. Besides, Dmitry Medoyev, the South Ossetian president's envoy, said the parties had agreed that all armed groups except the peacekeeping troops should pull out from the region, a step that will alleviate tensions in the conflict zone.
"Russia persuaded the parties to sign the final protocol as the conflict would escalate otherwise," said Valery Yevnevich, Deputy Commander in Chief of the Russian Land Forces. "Georgy Khindrava and Boris Chochiyev, who led the respective Georgian and South Ossetian delegations, were not willing to sign the document and wanted the situation to remain as it was," according to General Yevnevich.
The Georgian delegation signed the protocol with a special reservation. It is not clear what the reservation is about. However, Tskhinvali and Tbilisi are known to have failed to agree on whose territory the conflict zone should be attributed to. In addition, Georgian State Minister Georgy Khaindrava said that "he is not quite pleased with the Moscow meeting outcomes" as South Ossetia had not agreed to sign a provision on the demilitarisation of the conflict zone.
"Russia is doing its utmost to find peaceful solutions to all disputable issues and the MCC meeting in Moscow, which was held against the background of aggravated tensions, is the evidence of that," General Vladimir Romanenko, First Deputy Director of the Institute of the CIS countries, said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.
The expert believes that "the documents signed at the meeting can make a solid foundation for the peaceful settlement of all problems over South Ossetia asthe protocol signed by all parties reads that the peacekeeping troops are the main guarantor of peace in the region." "Other armed units are not allowed, first, to be deployed in the region and, second, to exert any influence whatsoever on developments there. This allows the peacekeepers led by General Nabzdorov to hold an "inventory" of the area to identify all security units Georgia had deployed in the region, and demand their withdrawal," said Mr Romanenko.
Unlike General Romanenko, Konstantin Simonov, Director of the Political Situation Centre, believes the protocol will not help resolve the crisis as Georgia does not pay much heed to MCC protocols. President Saakashvili is taking rather aggressive measures. Therefore the conflict can escalate further, according to Mr Simonov. Both South Ossetia and Georgia are taking rather tough positions despite numerous settlement agreements. They are therefore instigating each other to a military operation, according to the expert.
Mr Simonov believes "Russia has to persuade Mr Saakashvili that he has no right to endanger Russian citizens' lives, which is an extremely difficult foreign policy task."
Alexander Khramchikhin, head of analysis at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, echoed Mr Simonov in an exclusive RIA Novosti interview. "The outset of talks is undoubtedly a positive thing. However, peace will not be brought to the region, until South Ossetia's status is determined," said Mr Khramchikhin.
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