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Occupied Ossetia connects diseases to Georgia’s Lugar lab

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, September 15
The de facto South Ossetian government has expressed concern about the “unusual epidemiological diseases of people and animals in the region” and has linked the diseases to the Lugar Laboratory located on the territory of Georgia, adding that the epidemic outbreaks of dangerous diseases in South Ossetia has become more frequent in recent years.

The statement was made at a meeting of the so-called South Ossetian Presidential Envoy for post-conflict settlement, Murat Djioev, and the co-chairs of the Geneva Discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus.

The participants of the meeting discussed the agenda of the two working groups of the 41st round of the Geneva Talks scheduled for October.

The main topic of the discussions, according to the de facto Ossetian Foreign Ministry, was security issues. The Ossetians still demand that Georgia sign a ceasefire juridical agreement with them.

“In order to maintain lasting security and stability in the region, on the background of Georgia's deepening military cooperation with NATO, the development of a legally binding agreement on the non-use of force between the Republic of South Ossetia and Georgia is an absolute priority,” the so-called ministry stated.

The Ossetians also raised "issues of vandalism and damage of Ossetian cemeteries and cultural monuments on territory of Georgia.”

The so-called Foreign Ministry also demanded the strengthening of security measures at the “border,” and recalled the need to begin the marking process of the borderline.

Georgia’s Defense Minister, Levan Izoria, commented on the statement of the de facto Foreign Ministry of South Ossetia.

He said the statement made by the occupation forces about the Lugar laboratory in Georgia is unserious.

Lugar Lab has been the subject of criticism many times. Skeptics have argued that its goal is to create chemical or biological weapons and spread dangerous viruses or diseases. The government of Georgia has categorically denied the accusations.

The minister of Health, Davit Sergeenko stated some time ago that the Lugar Laboratory has an important role in biosafety, as well as the development of public health and science.

“Georgia is the leader in Eastern Europe in detecting components of threats ... This laboratory gives us great advantage to know the origin of these threats,” he stated.

Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research is a facility of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) of Georgia, which became operational in August 2013.

The Lugar center is top-tiered institution in NCDC’s laboratory network and serves as a reference laboratory of Georgia’s public health system.

Project started in 2004, after USA – Georgia Umbrella Agreement was signed in 1997 and USA – Georgia Implementing Agreement signed in 2002 about “Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise Related to the Development of Biological Weapons.”