Tbilisi is taking “imaginative” steps towards resolving the South Ossetian conflict, but its new strategy may backfire “unless it proceeds cautiously and engages all actors,” the Brussels-based think-tank, International Crisis Group, (ICG) said.
The ICG report, “Georgia’s South Ossetia Conflict: Make Haste Slowly”, issued on June 7, says that Tbilisi is determined to resolve the conflict “but on its own terms and perhaps too quickly.”
The establishment of the Tbilisi-loyal provisional administration, led by Dimitri Sanakoev, “is alienating the broader Ossetian constituency,” the report says.
“It would be a mistake to dismiss Ossetian aspirations together with the Kokoity regime in Tskhinvali.”
ICG says that Georgia’s frustration with Russia’s role “has reached an unprecedented level,” claiming that “conflict is really with Moscow, not the Ossetians.”
“Focusing on containing Russia, however legitimate, will not resolve interethnic issues and satisfy Ossetian aspirations and fears,” the report reads.
The group called on the parties in the conflict to agree on changes to the negotiating formats with emphasis on direct Georgian-Ossetian dialogue and “to give the EU a role on a par with Russia and the OSCE.”
It called on Tbilisi to focus on restoring territorial integrity “through gradual confidence building, not rapid status determination” and “to engage in substantive dialogue with the Tskhinvali de facto authorities, while allowing ample time for Sanakoev to build credibility with South Ossetians.”
ICG also called on Russia to encourage Tskhinvali “to be more open-minded on changes to the negotiation and peacekeeping formats.”
It urged the South Ossetian side “to build a pluralistic, open society and discuss amending negotiation and peacekeeping formats with Tbilisi.”