Interview with Eduard Kokoity
RT: Mr President, the Russian President has just recognised the independence of South Ossetia. What does this decision mean for the Ossetian people and for you personally?
Eduard Kokoity: What kind of feelings can a man have if he has devoted his whole life to make sure his people gain independence? Of course, my heart is overwhelmed with feelings and emotions. But I think we still have a lot of things to do.
We are very thankful to Russia, especially to its President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as well as to the whole people of Russia who gave a helping hand at this hard moment.
Now we have to rebuild the devastated Ossetian towns and villages after Georgia brutally raised them to the ground. We need to build houses and restore the infrastructure of the whole of South Ossetia.
In this process Russia also holds a leading role. We are extremely grateful for all this help that Russia provides. And of course we are thankful to Russia for being the first of the international community to recognise the call for independence of the Republic of South Ossetia.
RT: Do you think South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be recognised by the international community as well?
Eduard Kokoity: Of course we are waiting for other countries – including Europe – to recognise the independence of South Ossetia. Because if you don’t come from the grounds of double standards or geopolitical interests, but if you base it on international law and legal political reasons, then both South Ossetia and Abkhazia are worthy of being recognised – and not just by Russia, but by the whole of the international community.
RT: How do you see South Ossetia’s future? Are you planning to unite with North Ossetia?
Eduard Kokoity: The fact that Russia recognises South Ossetia does not exhaust the matter. We need to think about the future, we need to rebuild South Ossetia, to raise it from ruins after the Georgian aggression.
And of course there has been a great desire on the part of the South Ossetian people to integrate into the Russian Federation. But that depends on Russia. As for us, we need to strengthen our independence, our sovereignty.
RT: Did the decision on Kosovo have any significant impact on the South Ossetian decision?
Eduard Kokoity: We addressed the international community much earlier than Kosovo. We have this historical experience, we had a state of our own – the Great Alania.
If to compare it with Kosovo, even during Soviet times we had all the fundamental features of an autonomous state, while Kosovo was created artificially.
We can only say that Kosovo’s existence and recognition is the result of the politics of double standards over the real state of things and over the norms of international law. What happened today is a triumph of common sense in the sphere of the international law.
RT: Now that you’ve been recognised by Russia, how do you plan to build your relations with Georgia in the future?
Eduard Kokoity: We will have no relationship with the current criminal administration of Georgia. That does not refer to the Georgian people as a whole. We are not at war with the Georgian people.
I am sending my condolences to the Georgians who lost their loved ones – their sons and husbands – during the conflict Saakashvili threw them in to.
It is a tragedy of the Georgian people as well. We do not have any bad feelings towards the Georgian people, since they themselves became hostages of this criminal and unwise politics led by Saakashvili.
We will build neighbouring relations with the Georgian people and we will talk to them as equals. There will be no older brother-younger brother situation any more.
We are equal now, we are recognised. We will build good, friendly neighbouring economic and cultural relations with Georgia – now already as equals.
RT: The U.S. President George Bush appealed to the Russian President not to recognise South Ossetia and sent his Deputy, Dick Cheney, to Georgia to express the U.S. support for Georgia. How do you think Georgia will respond to this decision for independence?
Eduard Kokoity: We are not at all interested in Georgia’s reaction, because today’s Georgia is governed by international criminals. We do not want to oppose the Georgian people, despite them causing us so much pain and suffering.
I think though that they share responsibility for the genocide of the Ossetian people with the US – which armed Georgia. Many times we tried to attract the attention of the international community to the fact that Georgia has turned into the most militarised country in the post-Soviet territory.
But instead of any reaction we kept seeing Georgia getting more and more arms. So, everyone who supplied the arms now bears responsibility for the genocide of the Ossetian people. And that’s the United States first and foremost.
RT: Are you afraid of the further escalation of relations with Georgia?
Eduard Kokoity: You know, nobody reacts to the word “be afraid of” in South Ossetia any more. We’ve got rid of our fear long ago. We have lived in this state for 18 years now. We realise the seriousness of the situation but we are ready for any turn of events.
We are protecting our land. And the fact that a small people is struggling for independence is more of a humanitarian than a political issue. I want to address those western leaders that seek to satisfy their geopolitical interests, who say they cannot accept the fact of genocide because there has not been enough blood shed.
I wonder how much more blood they want to see shed if we are already so few. How many more people do Georgian soldiers have to kill for the western leaders to be able to call it genocide.
RT: Do you think South Ossetia would strive for its independence if Georgia hadn’t been a close ally of the United States?
Eduard Kokoity: We have been struggling for it for a very long time – since the moment of the artificial separation of the Ossetian people in 1922. If it was not so obvious before, it was because we were part of one bigger union and under the protection of Russia, as well as Georgia itself.
Then Georgia decided to separate, Ossetians rebelled, because they did not want to find themselves part of different countries. So Ossetians made a statement that they did not want to be part of Democratic Georgia, instead they wanted to stay together with North Ossetia and as part of Russia. That caused the first wave of genocide.
RT: Russia itself is a Federation. Do you think that the decision made by South Ossetia and Abkhazia – their strive for independence – would somehow have a negative impact on Russia itself and will endanger Russia?
Eduard Kokoity: I totally exclude such a scenario. There have been attempts to divide Russia when it was weak. Even the powers that tried today to invade Abkhazia and South Ossetia – that was not even Georgia, not Saakashvili – he is just a puppet – those powers tried to steal the North Caucasus from Russia.
This plan does exist. It was worked out overseas and we know about it. And the fact is – South Ossetia and Abkhazia survived the pressure and united people in the Caucasus region. Unlike Georgia, Russia has created very favourable conditions for national minorities, so that they kept their language and culture. That is what we were deprived of in Georgia.