US experts say direct dialogue to create threat of de-facto legitimization of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi
23 March, 2018
A group of experts from the US believe that a direct dialogue will create the threat of de-facto legitimization of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi occupied regions.

John Herbst, former US Ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan, said in his interview with the “Voice of America” that “the governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are illegitimate formations. As a rule, a meeting of a legitimate unit with illegitimate formations strengthens the illegitimate side."
Russian peacekeepers talk with Georgian soldiers near the village of
Khurvaleti during the conflict in August

"Georgia is taking a great risk by granting the status of plenipotentiary participants to the representatives of occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. Georgia faces a tortious problem, "said John Herbst.
Abandoned railway station in Georgias breakaway region Abkhazia

Kenneth Yalovitz, former ambassador of the United States to Georgia, says that instead of launching a direct dialogue Tbilisi has to deepen interpeople unofficial relations with the occupied regions.
Georgia's breakaway region Tskhinvali (so-called South Ossetia)

"Abkhazians and Ossetians should arrive more often in Georgia to get medical treatment, education. Georgia has to spread some benefits of visa-free travel and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union on the occupied territories. In my opinion, it is possible, "- said Yalovitz.
Russian soldiers holding down a street during the Russian-Georgian war, 2008

Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council Damon Wilson believes that it is important for Georgia to have contacts with Abkhazians and Ossetians, but the decision-maker is only Moscow.
Russian peacekeepers take their position on the hill between the settlements of Tskhinvali and Tamarashani

"We should not create a seemingly realistic feeling that this is not a reality. Moscow is the ruler of puppets who continues to manipulate frozen conflicts in the occupied territories of Georgia and the region ", - added Wilson.

Tskhinvali, so-called South Ossetia, is a partially recognised state in the South Caucasus, located in the territory of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the former Georgian SSR.
Occupied Tskhinvali Region

South Ossetia declared independence from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991. The Georgian government responded by abolishing South Ossetia's autonomy and trying to re-establish its control over the region by force.The crisis escalation led to the 1991–92 South Ossetia War. Georgian fighting against those controlling South Ossetia occurred on two other occasions, in 2004 and 2008. The latter conflict led to the Russo–Georgian War, during which Ossetian and Russian forces gained full de facto control of the territory of the former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast.

In the wake of the 2008 war, Russia, followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, recognised South Ossetia's independence.
Families fleeing Abkhazia. 1993

As for Abkhazia, on July 23 of 1992, functioning of Georgian Constitution in the autonomous region of Abkhazia was terminated. The judicial war that had begun between the Georgian capital and the region degenerated into an armed confrontation within less than a month. In the Soviet period Abkhazia, a pleasant region on the Black Sea coast and popular summer destination among the USSR’s elites, enjoyed autonomous status within the Georgian republic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic Abkhaz with some Russian support fought a brutal war against the Georgian government in 1992-93.
Georgia's Ex-president Zviad Gamzakhurdia makes a brief visit to the military H.Q. in Ochamchire, Abkhazia

Photo courtesy Mike Goldwater

The catastrophe left more than 250,000 Georgians (who had constituted a majority in the region) homeless. In August 2008, Russia recognized the territory as independent while majority of countries consider it part of Georgia.

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