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7 Aug, 2009 18:37

South Ossetia: establishing contacts, healing wounds

“Those who armed the aggressor should be punished as well” – that is the view of Eduard Kokoity, the president of South Ossetia.

Kokoity spoke during a video press conference held Friday between Moscow, the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinval, the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz and Brussels.

The conference was attended by Kokoity and Russia’s deputy emergency minister and deputy minister of regional development, while journalists and members of Ossetian communities in Europe joined from Brussels.

The event was held to commemorate one year since Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia. Back then, Russia quickly intervened and repelled the Georgian assault.

In his speech, Kokoity thanked Russia for what has been done during the first post-conflict year, including joint reconstruction projects.

He also stressed that those responsible for the last year’s aggression have never been brought to justice.

“What happened on the night of the August 7 [2008] was an attempt to wipe out the small nation of Ossetians,” Kokoity said. “And nobody was punished for that, nobody claimed responsibility for that.”

“To avoid such events in the future anywhere in the world, I think the world community has to condemn the aggressor and those who armed the aggressor,” he added.

Meanwhile, Georgia insists it was Russian tanks that invaded Georgian territory in the first place. Konstantin Kosachev, the Head of Russia’s State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, responded to these accusations:

“Even if we hypothetically accept this version as true, the actions of the Georgian government and of [Georgian President] Mikhail Saakashvili personally could qualify as crime against humanity, because it was not the mythical tanks that were ordered to be attacked – it was the civilian population of Tskhinval.”

Gas project

Among other things discussed at the conference was a gas pipeline project that proposes delivering natural gas from Russia to South Ossetia, bypassing Georgia.

Until now, Russian gas was delivered here through Georgia’s territory, but with the project having been completed, South Ossetians are getting one step closer to rebuilding normal life.

Read also Russia to punish those guilty of genocide in South Ossetia