South Ossetia can become a part of the Unified State of Russia and Belarus, Eduard Kokoity, the President of South Ossetia, said in an interview with Itogy magazine August 31. “Tskhinvali is willing to build unified relations with Russia so that the Ossetians living in the south and in the north did not have any borders between them. We want to become a part of the Unified State with Russia,” the president said.
“Russia does not want somebody else’s territory, and we understand that. But we want to build a union with Russia – similar to Russia’s union with Belarus. The forms of association can be different,” the president said.
Eduard Kokoity added that he was not speaking about the unification of South and North Ossetias.
South Ossetia and Russia already discuss the issues of dual citizenship, which the Constitution of South Ossetia stipulates. In addition, Kokoity said, Russia and South Ossetia cooperate in a number of other spheres, including the mutual defense of South Ossetian territories, which Georgia previously occupied. Russia also helps the republic to recreate the nation’s economy, which was seriously damaged as a result of the war with Georgia in 2008. Moscow assigned 10 billion rubles during 2008-2009. A third of the amount – 3.5 billion – was used for construction works, whereas the rest was invested in communication, medicine and education, Kokoity said.
Georgia’s officials responded to Kokoity’s remarks very quickly. David Jalaganiya, a senior official with the nation’s Foreign Ministry, said that the president of South Ossetia had a very vivid imagination.
Alexander Rar, a well-known German scientist of politics, believes that such an initiative – to join the Unified State of Russia and Belarus – would be the best option for both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, he added, the West would definitely criticize such a step. Russia will be able to avoid accusations of annexing Georgia’s territories because the Unified State per se has not been created yet. Russia will therefore be able to make it all look like a form of integration on the post-Soviet space.
Indeed, if Moscow gives a green light to Kokoity’s plan, such a form of relations would give an opportunity to South Ossetia, and probably Abkhazia, to preserve their independence and win Russia’s protection.