Georgia has proposed scrapping the Joint Control Commission (JCC) on South Ossetian conflict resolution and replacing it with a new negotiating body based on a 2+2+2 formula.
The current quadripartite arrangement involves negotiators from the Georgian, South Ossetian, Russian and Russia’s North Ossetian sides. Tbilisi has described it as “unfair,” effectively amounting to a “three against one” arrangement.
Speaking at a hearing of the parliamentary commission on territorial integrity on February 29, Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, suggested changing the format with what he described as a more balanced one. The North Ossetian side, he said, should be replaced by the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration, led by Dimitri Sanakoev, and the OSCE and EU should also be included, the Georgian daily 24 Saati (24 Hours) reported.
Iakobashvili, according to the newspaper, said that the South Ossetian provisional administration should be included, because “it does not just exist on paper; it really works.”
Sanakoev welcomed the suggestion, saying on February 29 that “all parties in the conflict should participate in the settlement process.”
Authorities in breakaway South Ossetia, meanwhile, have condemned the initiative. The South Ossetian Press and Information Committee said it amounted to ”saying no to political, civilized, peaceful dialogue.”
There has been no comment from Russia, but its position is unlikely to be positive given its repeated backing of “existing negotiating mechanisms.”
Yuri Popov, Russian chief negotiator over South Ossetia and co-chairman of the JCC, is due in Georgia next week to hold talks both in Tbilisi and Tskhinvali.