Whatever considerable incident may trigger off uncontrollable violence in South Ossetia, said Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, while commenting to newsmen on the suspense-laden situation in Georgia's unrecognized republic.
Tensions are escalating, and the Russian top is badly alarmed. Skirmishes are on day in, day out, and an avalanche of violence may start any instant.
Moscow spares no effort to settle the crisis peacefully. Russian policies are consistent, and proceed from legal premises and methods on which all involved parties have agreed, Georgian leaders being no exception. These premises require South Osset problems settled by the Mixed Control Commission, and mixed peacekeeping forces subordinate to it, said the minister. He was referring to a quadripartite commission established in 1992 on the basis of agreements between Georgia, Russia and the two Osset republics-South Ossetia and North Ossetia/Alania, autonomy within Russia.
Each peacekeeping party is entitled to a battalion, 500-strong.
Hard facts come as follows: Georgia is blatantly trampling on the agreements. It has unlawfully deployed in the conflict zone several hundred, nay, thousand fighters who cannot be qualified as peacekeepers. They have no identity papers with them. The Georgian contingent is far outside the limits which Tbilisi approved, in its time, pointed out Mr. Lavrov.
Russia insists on all involved parties complying with the agreements. These endow the mixed peacekeeping force commander with extensive rights. He can resolutely disband whatever uncontrolled armed formations, promptly settle group clashes, whether armed or unarmed, and introduce and maintain enhanced security measures in the conflict zone and, when necessary, in its vicinity. The commander also ought to stop armed and other uncontrolled formations as they seek to penetrate the area, if their action threatens to enhance instability, the minister wenton.
The agreement of December 6, 1994, authorizes the commander to use coercion when necessary. He has not recurred to such measures for today, with all efforts aiming at peaceful conflict settlement.
The Foreign Minister came over to military property Georgians have confiscated in South Ossetia. It must certainly be restored to the peacekeepers, he emphatically said.
The Mixed Control Commission determined, July 8, 1992, to assign two helicopters to the peacekeeping forces. Georgia signed a respective resolution with the other Parties.
The commission confirmed its previous decisions a week ago-at its session of July 2. Georgy Khaindrava, commission co-chair for Georgia, signed it, said Mr. Lavrov as he displayed the signature to his audience.
"Georgia has recognized those decisions, and they are valid, so the mixed peacekeeping forces must have their property back," he stressed.
Russia's Foreign Ministry has offered assistance to OSCE spokesmen in South Ossetia as they intend to visit the conflict zone.
There are few OSCE delegates in South Ossetia. They have no chance to provide exhaustive information about the developments to the Organization top. Whatever reports have come for now are fragmentary and base on Georgian allegations, which far deviate from the actual state of things.
Moscow has offered representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe every help for a tour of localities where illegal armed formations are deployed, so that OSCE officers see with their own eyes that Georgia is violating the agreements.
It is an essential OSCE duty to make Tbilisi comply with its obligations, said Mr. Lavrov.
South Ossetia is understandably apprehensive as those formations stay where they have been, and Tbilisi is the main culprit of present-day tensions.
Russia firmly insists on the conflict to be settled by peaceful means. That point is top priority. Russia deems it timely to convene theMixed Control Commission at a high level. Yet sessions and conferences are not enough to settle the conflict-Georgia must put an end to blatant non-compliance with its own pledges, Sergei Lavrov firmly demanded.
Represented on the commission are Russia, Georgia and both Osset republics.
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill