Tblisi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The president of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoitv, told the media today that "we will be part of the Russian Federation". "Now we are an independent state and we look forward to uniting with North Ossetia". "We will do it according to the norms of international law".
From Warsaw, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he was unaware of the request. But then he added that "South Ossetia has understood it cannot guarantee its safety without declaring independence", and that Russia has recognized its independence in order to guarantee the survival of its population. So far, the only other country to recognize it is Nicaragua.
The announcement comes after Russian president Dmitri Medvedev yesterday ordered the creation of Russian bases in Ossetia and Obkhazia, another region of Georgia under Russian occupation, "following the requests from the leaders "of the two countries, for the purpose - Medvedev added - of preventing "the Georgian military regime from committing other idiotic acts".
North Ossetia was part of Georgia before breaking away after a separatist war in the early 1990's. South Ossetia is about 4,000 square kilometers in size, and numbers 70,000 inhabitants.
Also yesterday, Lavrov accused the European Union of reporting "distorted" news about the agreement for the withdrawal of Russian troops. EU foreign minister Javier Solana says EU forces will monitor the withdrawal of the Russian army beginning on October 1. "What will happen two months from now, who knows?" he says. "The Russians have to be out by October 10 if we are deployed by October 1. This is the agreement." Moscow insists that it has the obligation of preventing the "genocide" in Tblisi, but its military intervention in August has been condemned by the international community.