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South Ossetia president says Georgia evades signing non-use of force deal

March 19, 2015, 13:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The charge was levelled by South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov one day after his country and Russia signed a treaty formalising alliance and integration

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South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov

South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov

© Yuri Mashkov/TASS

MOSCOW, March 19. /TASS/. Georgia was accused by a neighbour state in the South Caucasus on Thursday of seeking to avoid pledging no use of force against the small territory of South Ossetia.

The charge was levelled by South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov one day after his country and Russia signed a treaty formalising alliance and "further integration with Russia".

He spoke one day after representatives from states in the volatile area reconvened for talks in Geneva to discuss ways of ensuring regional security, resolving refugee problems and seeking a Georgian undertaking not to use force against neighbour states.

Delegates from Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia, Russia, and the United States had gathered in Geneva assembled in the single platform existing for dialogue between the three South Caucasus countries.

This was first convened on a deal between the Russian and French presidents after August 2008 events when Georgia attacked neighbour South Ossetia, leading to Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia as an independent nation.

But "challenges we face today are real," Tibilov told Rossiya-24 television on Thursday.

"We see NATO troops planning to station themselves in Georgia, certain centres being established - all this posing a threat to the interests of our state," he said.

"If we are talking about relations with Georgia, South Ossetia and Georgia have no relations at all, and this is not South Ossetia’s fault," Tibilov said.

"Today, these issues are subject to negotiation during the Geneva discussions. We assume that it is necessary to sign a document on the non-use of force against South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"Today, we see that Georgia is trying to evade the issue," he said. "If a state sidesteps such an issue, the other side suspects that military action may be resumed. And we are increasingly active in raising the issue of signing such a document."

Convened anew, three months after a December gathering added representatives from the European Union, the United Nations and European security agency OSCE to discussions, Geneva talks were to seek paths to peace in strained regional relations.

South Ossetia counts on Russia’s help in protection of its borders

The president said South Ossetia hopes that its national borders will be solidly protected with the help of the Russian special services.

"A very important provision of the recently signed alliance and integration treaty between Russia and South Ossetia concerns the protection of our state border, including the one with Georgia," Tibilov said on air of Russia’s Rossiya-24 television channel.

"In line with the law on the protection of the state border, signed in 2009, we have Russian FSB [Federal Security Service] staff and national border guards working in our republic," he said. "Today we are talking about the expansion of this cooperation."

"We will be further working on supplementary agreements regarding these issues," Tibilov said. "We are sharing almost 365 kilometers [227 miles] of state border with Georgia and it needs protection."

"I believe that with the assistance of the Russian side the Georgian-Ossetian border will be steadfastly protected from all attempts to violate it," the South Ossetian leader added.

Military aggression against South Ossetia to be considered aggression against Russia

On Wednesday, President Tibilov and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, meeting in Moscow, signed an alliance and integration treaty governing staged promotion of social, economic, humanitarian and foreign affairs, and defense and security cooperation between the two countries.

It envisages forming a common defense and security space between Russia and South Ossetia. Separate units of South Ossetia’s military forces will be integrated into Russia’s Armed Forces. Military aggression against one country will be considered an act of aggression directed against the other country as well.

The treaty also envisages free border crossing between Russia and South Ossetia, taking into account restrictions in place for security concerns.

The document stipulates that Moscow and Tskhinval will conduct a coordinated foreign policy. Russia will assist South Ossetia in urging more countries to recognize the republic’s independence.

The document is valid for 25 years and can be extended by 10 years.

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