Parliament passed a resolution by 149 to 4 votes on May 8 to set up a provisional administrative entity in South Ossetia. The move will be followed by the appointment of Tbilisi-loyal alternative South Ossetian leader Dimitri Sanakoev as its head.
The two-sentence resolution gives no details on the administration and only says that the entity is established based on a law passed by Parliament in April.
The Georgian authorities have avoided any specifics or legally binding commitments, saying that the proposal and its legal basis should be “maximally flexible” to leave more room for maneuver.
The May 8 resolution is a formal move and part of a chain of legal actions and procedures required to finally establish the administration.
The next step will be the issuance of a decree by President Saakashvili to create the administration and appoint Dimitri Sanakoev as its head.
The entire process is being rushed through to meet a May 11 deadline. Sanakoev is due to address Parliament then and the hope is that he could do so with the official status as head of the provisional administration.
Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze, however, said that Sanakoev would address the legislative body, even if not appointed as the head of the administration.
“We will invite him as a ‘special guest’ which is envisaged by the parliamentary regulations,” she said on May 8.
Although most of the opposition lawmakers supported the resolution, some of them complained about the absence of a name for the administrative entity.
The name is a sensitive issue, as some in Georgia are against the term ‘South Ossetia’ and instead use the term Samachablo, or Tskhinvali Region.
Dimitri Kitoshvili, the president’s parliamentary secretary, who presented the resolution to lawmakers on May 8, said that the name was deliberately unspecified so as to avoid any controversy.
“This is an issue which should be discussed and decided through consultations between the central authorities and the provisional administration… It should not be decided here and now,” Kitoshvili said.
Meanwhile, the South Ossetian secessionist leader Eduard Kokoity said on May 8 that Tskhinvali would consider withdrawing from the negotiating process with Tbilisi if the Georgian side continued to undermine the current negotiating format by promoting its “puppet government” - Sanakoev's administration.
“Georgia’s actions towards South Ossetia make us believe that [the Georgian side] is not willing to deal with the situation in a peaceful manner. Georgia continues to escalate tensions, provoking the Ossetian side and ignoring the negotiating process,” Kokoity said in a statement posted on the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee website.
“Only civilized dialogue is acceptable for the South Ossetian side; otherwise we will have to consider whether to participate or not in negotiations in the future… There is no one with whom we can hold talks to resolve this issue,” he added.
Talks between the Georgian side and South Ossetian secessionist authorities have already been put on hold. Tskhinvali and Moscow insist on talks in the framework of the quadripartite Joint Control Commission (JCC). Tbilisi, however, tries to by-pass this mechanism, claiming that it is an unfair and outdated negotiating arrangement.