South Ossetia may join Russia-Belarus union state

RIA Novosti / Grigory Susoev
South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity has said that the republic may join the Union State of Russia and Belarus if Mink recognizes the independence of South Ossetia.

The republic’s people “are historically oriented towards Russia,” and will never forget Moscow’s decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia in 2008, Kokoity told Interfax agency on Tuesday. The move was made shortly after Georgia attacked the republic’s capital Tskhinval in August 2008, launching the five day war in the Caucasus.

Given both present and historical realities, South Ossetia aims for maximum integration with Russia, the republic’s president said, adding that the citizens have repeatedly voiced their support to maintaining most close ties with Moscow.

“I think that South Ossetia could join the Union State between Russia and Belarus upon Belarus’ recognition of our independence,” Kokoity stated.

The entity was established back in December 1999, when the then Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko signed a respective agreement.

While speaking about the possibility of joining the union, Tskhinval stressed that the republic does not intend to become a part of the Russian Federation.

The republic’s Ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Medoyev, recalled that back in 2006, South Ossetia held a referendum in which over 90 percent of the voters said “yes” to independence for the republic.

“Our people made a choice in favor of independence at the referendum, and we have no plans to become a constituent unit of Russia. We are only talking about integration,” he said in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio station.

As for joining the Russia-Belarus union, it is “quite an interesting and promising” proposition, Medoyev noted. According to the diplomat, it would be a very good step for South Ossetia and “a good way out of the situation we are currently in.”

The comments followed a statement that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made on Monday.

"You know the position of Russia, when the Georgian leadership resorted to military action, it (the Russian leadership) supported South Ossetia," he said, talking to the Youth Forum Seliger 2011 participants, cited Itar-Tass. In answer to a question whether the accession of South Ossetia to Russia was possible, Putin said that "the future will depend on the Ossetian people themselves."

Earlier last week, the US Senate approved a resolution which supports Georgia’s territorial integrity while recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as regions “occupied by the Russian Federation”. Moscow met the move with surprise and criticism.

“Statements that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are reportedly occupied by the Russian Federation lack both factual and legal grounds. The resolution of the US senators in this regard testifies either to a poor background in international law or to a total disregard for the real facts,” a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry reads. “Such statements are not harmless at all. They feed the revanchist moods inherent in Tbilisi’s policies, and support the Georgian side’s refusal to speak to Sukhum and Tskhinval with mutual respect on a basis of parity. Meanwhile, such dialogue is the key to peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, and it would be good to for the US side to remember this as well”.