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Russian Chief Negotiator Speaks of S.Ossetia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Jul.'07 / 18:45

Yuri Popov, Russia’s chief negotiator for South Ossetia, has said he did not rule out the possible participation of Dimitri Sanakoev, the head of the Tbilisi-backed provisional administration, in talks within the framework of the quadripartite Joint Control Commission.

He qualified his remarks, however, saying that Sanakoev’s administration could not be considered as a separate party to the conflict.

“Theoretically it [Sanakoev’s involvement in the JCC] is possible,” RIA Novosti quoted Popov as saying on July 20. “Despite the Georgian side’s efforts to portray him as party in the negotiations, he is a structural part of the Georgian executive government.”

“Sanakoev, as a local authority representative, executes authority on territory under Georgia’s sovereignty [in South Ossetia]. In this role, Sanakoev can participate in the negotiations; however, I think it would be quite cynical,” Popov said.

Popov has proposed holding an informal meeting in the framework of the JCC in Tbilisi on August 1-3, prior to a plenary session of the commission.

Earlier Georgia suggested holding a plenary session at the OSCE office in Tbilisi on July 25-26.

“We consider it necessary to prepare an agreed agenda, to define a number of urgent issues, which need urgent resolution. Therefore, the Russian side deems it necessary to hold a session of co-chairmen in Tbilisi on August 1-3, as a result of which it will be possible to define the dates of a plenary session,” he said.
 
Speaking with journalists, the Russian chief negotiator accused the Georgian side of "an unjustified increase" in police numbers in the conflict zone.

“The number of armed personnel is increasing disproportionately to the needs. This, naturally, upsets the South Ossetians and destabilizes the situation in the region,” Popov said.

He also added that such actions were provoking the South Ossetian side into “hasty and not always appropriate actions.”

He said that in the event of “an emergency situation” in the South Ossetian conflict zone, the Russian side might increase its peacekeeping presence by 300 servicemen.

This, however, was currently unnecessary, as “the peacekeepers were coping for the moment with their tasks.”

Each side in the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) – Georgia, Russia and Ossetia – is authorized to deploy a maximum of 500 servicemen in the conflict zone. There is, however, an agreement, according to which each side can increase troop levels by 300.

The Russian chief negotiator also stated that recently the Georgian battalion in the JPKF, which is under Russian command, was more inclined to take orders from Tbilisi than JPKF commanding officers.

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