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South Ossetia’s accession is outside Russian foreign policy — ambassador

July 08, 2016, 17:26 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russia's ambassador says any referendum the republic may have is its domestic affair

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

MOSCOW, July 8. /TASS/. South Ossetia’s accession to Russia is outside Russia’s foreign policy agenda, Russian Ambassador to South Ossetia Elbrus Kargiyev told TASS on Friday.

Any referendum the republic may have "is an absolutely domestic affair," he said. "That is why we refrain from any comments, naturally," he said, adding that South Ossetia’ actual accession is "a bilateral process."

"Such issue is outside our current agenda and is not even looked at," the Russian diplomat stressed. "Our position is that we recognized South Ossetia as an independent sovereign state in 2008."

According to earlier reports, South Ossetia is looking at organizing a referendum on its possible accession to Russia in 2017. Actually, the referendum will focus on amendment to the national constitution that will make it possible for the republic to seek accession to Russia in future.

Additional agreements

The ambassador said additional agreements to the Alliance and Integration Treaty between Russia and South Ossetia can be expected to be signed in the coming weeks.

He noted that representatives of the relevant Russian and South Ossetian authorities discussed the issue in Tskhinval recently.

"We are now talking about weeks rather than months, as representatives of the parallel, partner agencies in the two countries have assured us," he said. "That’s why we can expect the signing at an early date."

On March 18, 2015, the Russian and South Ossetian presidents signed the Alliance and Integration Treaty for the period of 25 years with the possibility of extension. The document provides for forming of a common defense and security space by the two counties, free border crossing and other aspects of integration. The treaty is the basis for the gradual establishment of more close cooperation between Russia and South Ossetia in the social, economic and humanitarian areas as well as in foreign policy, defense and security while maintaining the republic’s state sovereignty.

South Ossetians thankful to the Russian emergencies ministry

The diplomat noted South Ossetia’s people are thankful to the Russian emergencies ministry for its efforts to clear the republic’s territory of landmines.

He reminded that the current demining program will be in place for two months. The program, in his words, covers an area of the most intense combat operations. "The land is abundant in deliberately planted landmines. Moreover, there are a lot of unexploded shells in the earth," he said.

"People are thankful for this work, I think on both sides," he stressed.

"The problem is that in the troubled years demining works were rather non-systemic on both sides and this fact complicates the work of our specialists who have arrived in South Ossetia," the Russian diplomat said.

"It is not a comprehensive program. We have neither forces nor funds to demine the entire territory. And what is most important, we have no understanding how to solve the problem of such random mining from the technical point of view," Kargiyev said. "Nevertheless we will clear of mines the most densely mined areas and it will considerably improve the situation."

Mine pickers from the Russian emergencies ministry began a demining operation in South Ossetia on June 7.

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