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16.12.2013 10:49

Provisional Border

Tamar Svanidze
Features

“Entry prohibited, South Ossetian territory!” – green banners came about together with the wire fences at the border between Georgia and South Ossetia. The very first wire fence emerged on May 27, 2013. Provisional border between South Ossetia and Georgia’s occupied territory tends to become more barbed and visible. Ditsi, Dvani, Ghogheti, around 350 kilometers of the borderline has been fenced by Russian militaries.

After setting up an iron fence some agricultural lands owned by borderline dwellers, as well as water storage and cemeteries was found on the side of the breakaway region. Population feels unsecure. Prior to the wire fences they somehow managed to negotiate with frontier guards through different ways in order to take care of the lands on the other side. Now according to the Russian geopolitical map it has become impossible.  While Georgian government is giving the population a pledge of security and protection.

 “On the South Ossetian territory too there are peasants owning lands on the Georgian side. But similar cases are overwhelming on the Georgian side, said Nikolai Silaev, Senior Research Associate of the Center for Research on the Caucasus at MGIMO-University speaking at the June 20 Round Table meeting.

According to Silaev in regard to the installation of wire fences official Russia thinks as follows: the Russian federation recognized South Ossetia’s sovereignty, accordingly it is not going to consider border-related issues with third countries. Russian frontier guards are deployed on the South Ossetian territory based on the “official” agreement reached between Ossetia and Moscow.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the problem persists due to “hotheads. “As regards the barbed wire, the borders should be protected. Violations should be curbed on both sides. I think barbed wire will become unnecessary as hotheads calm down," said Lavrov following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels.

While the new force in the Georgian authorities is doing its best to hold peace talks with Russia and settle relations Russia is still trying to maintain control in the region and through setting up wire fences it is trying to show Georgia the probable consequences of keen obsession by Euro-Atlantic course.

Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on August 26, 2008. Clarifying to the “legalization” of the administrative border the Northern neighbor says it is helping “Sovereign State” (South Ossetia) to determine the borders. For the Georgian part y whose position corresponds to the stance of international organizations stating that setting a border by Russia is illegal misappropriation of the Georgian territory and occupation, which is also against international legal norms. Moreover, on August 16, 2008 following Georgian-Russian war the ceasefire agreement was signed according to which then border between Georgia and breakaway regions is considered as provisional.

To Russia Georgia is not the first country to use wire fences in order to demonstrate its power. The Ukraine-based TV ИРТА transmitted a TV story featuring Russians setting up borderline fences in Lugansk, at Russian-Ukrainian border. Lugansk dwellers, like Tskhinvali citizens have their family members and lands on the “Russian territory.” Seemingly Russia is applying new methods to punish its unruly and Western orientated neighbors.

First response made by official Tbilisi to the creeping occupation and an attempt to move the border was comparatively mild. Initially then Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said all the aforementioned was a misunderstanding and failed to see logics in Russia’s actions. State Minster for reintegration Paata Zakareishvili considered with these actions Russia wanted to make Tbilisi give consent to the talks on border demarcation and legalize kilometers through moving in by meters. But along with the expansion of wire fences at the provision al border official Tbilisi tended to sound stricter. The Foreign Ministry also sent a letter of protest to Russia.

Installation of wires inflicts more damage to South Ossetia rather than the Georgian side and the issue is to be settled through talks, Georgia’s incumbent President Giorgi Margvelashvili said in the TV program Choice on Rustavi 2. South Ossetian population, he said, is to decide what is more important to them, being locked up beyond wire fences or participation in the general European process, Margvelashvili said in Brussels after signing the Initial Association Agreement with the EU.

Even though the developments in Brussels is a success for Georgia on the way to Euro integration signing to the EU Initial Association Agreement implies preparation for signing a serious document on our side, and on EU side it means observation over the fulfillment of commitments and it never secures Georgia’s unconditional membership to the European family. Therefore, offering South Ossetia living in the European Georgia is a little bit hasty. First of all we need to provide real conditions in order to tempt them opt for Georgia if on the edge of choice. This is to say the first two levels of pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, in particular, social issues – access to quality healthcare and education as well as secure environment, shall be addressed.

“When Berlin Wall was being constructed,” Margvelashvili said, “it was obvious it would be knocked down. Same applied to the wires, since it is not a strategic type of fence, but the one set up among humans. ”

Wire fences, he also said illustrated that mutual relations have become so very intense that they need to be stopped. “I can’t see any other reason. No single military or theorist will explain to me what role the wire fences could play in the modern world.”

In the light of “intense relations” between Georgians and Ossetians though the border tends to further extend day after day. The latest wire fences were installed by Russian frontier guards in the vicinity of the village of Plavi. I wonder what is to come next.

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