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Passportisation in de facto South Ossetia should end by 2011, Kokoity says

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, April 15
The process of issuing new so-called South Ossetian passports should be completed by May 2011, de facto Tskhinvali leader Eduard Kokoity has said. “During the period when the old passports are being exchanged for new ones giving passports to people not living in the territory of South Ossetia should be terminated,” the de facto President said at an extended “Government” session.

The passportisation of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia started last year. The Georgian Foreign Ministry described this as a continuation of the “annexation” of the Georgian territories. “Passportisation was one of the components from which the aggression against our country began,” the Ministry stated. “We saw a massive, illegal passportisation of our citizens. This process continues on the occupied territories, where the access of international monitoring missions is restricted,” the statement continues. The Georgian Foreign Ministry evaluated the move of the de facto officials as a “violation” of international norms and “Russia’s ignorance of international legislation principles.”

Georgian analysts suggest that through passportisation the de facto authorities are trying to legitimise their “pseudo-independence” and “cleanse” the de facto republic of “unwanted persons”. “We should expect that the Kokoity regime will cleanse the Tskhinvali region of the Georgians who remain there,” analyst Mamuka Areshidze said. He suggested that it is important that the ethnic Georgian population stays in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He warned that if ethnic Georgians, and ethnic Abkhazians and Ossetians in severe economic conditions, abandon Georgia’s breakaway regions people of other ethnic origins could settle there. Areshidze called on the people living in the de facto republics to take new passports in order to avoid being forced to leave.

Meanwhile de facto South Ossetia and the Republic of Nicaragua have established diplomatic ties, news agency Res reported. The head of the Nicaraguan delegation, Foreign Minister Samuel Santos Lopez, assessed the visit as “important”. “Our Government and President made decision to recognise South Ossetia as independent in August 2008,” Lopez said, adding that despite protests from Georgia the Nicaraguan delegation had decided to visit Tskhinvali anyway. “On our way we were hearing news from Georgia saying that the officials there were protesting about our visit, but despite this threat we still came here,” the Nicaraguan Minister noted.

The Georgian side assessed the visit of the Nicaraguan delegation to Georgia’s breakaway region as an “unfriendly move”. Georgian MPs suggested that the officials of Nicaragua and the de facto Tskhinvali authorities should “keep the document on establishing diplomatic ties in the archive.” MP from the ruling National Movement Party Akaki Minashvili said that the document is “merely a piece of paper.” “99 percent of the states in the world recognise Georgia’s territorial integrity,” the MP stated.