In a statement issued on April 9, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia said that “the so called presidential elections and referendum” in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia are “illegal and could not have any legal effect.”
The Ministry stressed that the Russian Federation keeps violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and attempts “to legitimize the consequences of several waves of ethnic cleansing, military invasion and ongoing occupation of Georgian regions.”
According to the Ministry, the name-change referendum in the region “aims at laying the ground for its illegal annexation” by the Russian Federation, along with the signing of the “so called agreement on incorporation of the unlawful military units of the Tskhinvali Region into the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
“By such provocative actions, the Russian Federation intentionally impedes the efforts of peaceful conflict resolution, including within the Geneva International Discussions and hinders the confidence building between the communities divided by occupation lines,” is noted in the statement.
The MFA also called upon the international community “to give a due assessment to the illegal so called elections and referendum” in the region.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili delivered similar messages in his statement, adding that he is “convinced that we, Georgians and Ossetians, will find a way to reconcile and overcome this historically nonexistent alienation and will work together on building our common homeland, our mutual common - Georgia.”
President Giorgi Margvelashvili also issued his reaction, calling the referendum and election “an act directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia”, as well as against “the basic principles of international law.”
The President stressed that it was impossible to speak about the people’s free choice or free expression of will in the region “from where huge part of the population has been expelled as a result of ethnic cleansing, and where actual control is being exercised by the occupying force of a foreign country.”
President Margvalashvili added that holding the so called referendum was directed at transforming the creeping occupation into open annexation, drawing parallels with Russia’s actions in Crimea, Ukraine in 2014. He also called on the international community to firmly respond to these actions by Russia, saying that they threatened not just Georgia, but “the universal and fundamental principles, on which the modern international order is based.”
The South Ossetian polls have already been denounced by the U.S. Department of State, European External Action Service (EEAS) Spokesperson, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia as well as other international partners such as Japan, Poland and Ukraine.