06TBILISI2754, SOUTH OSSETIA TALKS AT AN IMPASSE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06TBILISI2754 2006-10-17 13:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1665
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2754/01 2901342
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 171342Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4369
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002754 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2016 
TAGS: PREL OSCE PGOV GG
SUBJECT: SOUTH OSSETIA TALKS AT AN IMPASSE 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b) & (d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (C) As described by OSCE, the October 12-13 Joint Control 
Commission (JCC) meeting in Vladikavkaz produced few real 
results because the Georgians and the other sides deadlocked 
over the Georgian proposal to change the format of the 
discussions.  The commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces 
(JPKF) presented a report blaming both sides for an increase 
in violations.  The only bright spot in the meeting was all 
participants' welcoming of the recently launched economic 
rehabilitation project in the region.  Russian 
representatives told OSCE privately that they believe 
hardliners have taken control over policy making in Georgia. 
End Summary. 
 
Airing the Differences 
---------------------- 
2. (C) OSCE Deputy Head of Mission Veselin Nikolaev told us 
October 16 that getting the participants to the Vladikavkaz 
meeting was a saga in itself, given the Russian closure of 
the Upper Lars-Kazbegi border crossing and air routes, and 
was resolved only at the last minute when all sides agreed to 
a charter flight from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz.  Once there, 
the discussions made little progress.  The Georgians insisted 
on changing to a bilateral format (Georgia-South Ossetia), 
with OSCE chairing and Russia, the U.S., and EU as 
participants, before discussing agenda items on a settlement 
of the conflict or on law enforcement cooperation.  The other 
sides strongly resisted this change, with the Russian 
co-chair commenting that he felt he was attending the 
"funeral of the JCC."  Nikolaev told us that, given the 
starkly opposed positions of the sides, he thought invoking 
the "political format" of the "authorized delegations of the 
sides" might be a face-saving way out of the impasse.  When 
this was proposed, however, the Russians said they had no 
instructions.  The Russian co-chair told Nikolaev privately 
that, while he personally had no objection to the proposal, 
he thought Moscow was unlikely to accept it. 
 
3. (C) Nikolaev said the JPKF commander, General Kulakhmetov, 
delivered a report to the JCC on the increasing number of 
violations of existing agreements, blaming the South 
Ossetians primarily for construction of fortifications and 
the Georgians primarily for unauthorized police checkpoints. 
The Georgians dismissed Kulakhmetov's report as biased. 
Nikolaev admitted to us that Kulakhmetov had seemed 
particularly careful not to anger the South Ossetians in his 
remarks, adding that he would have a better understanding of 
Kulakhmetov's overall assessment when OSCE obtains the 
written version of the report.  Nikolaev said there was one 
bright spot in the discussions: all participants welcomed the 
recent launch of the donors' economic rehabilitation program 
in South Ossetia. 
 
Russian Conspiracy Theories 
--------------------------- 
4. (C) Nikolaev said the Russian representatives had told him 
privately in Vladikavkaz that they believed Georgian co-chair 
Merab Antadze's uncompromising stance at the meeting 
indicated he was under the control of Defense Minister 
Okruashvili -- and that they believed Okruashvili had gained 
the upper hand over President Saakashvili.  Nikolaev told us 
he personally found this "far-fetched," especially the 
Russians' speculation that an incident might be arranged 
(apparently by Okruashvili) to remove Saakashvili "as 
happened with the late Prime Minister Zhvania."  (Note: 
Zhvania died in 2005 from accidental carbon monoxide 
poisoning.  End Note.)  Nikolaev said the Russians frequently 
make such comments about Okruashvili, on whom they appear to 
be "fixated."  Nikolaev said he spoke in Vladikavkaz with 
some of the evacuated officials from the Russian Embassy in 
Tbilisi, and they predicted the Embassy would go back to full 
staffing as soon as some event provided a public 
justification for it. 
 
Comment 
------- 
5. (C) There was no discussion in Vladikavkaz of when the JCC 
might meet again, although Nikolaev thought that the planned 
visit next week of Belgian MFA representative Pierre 
Chevalier to Moscow, Tbilisi, and South Ossetia might push 
things forward.  For now the talks are in stalemate, with 
OSCE working to preserve the JCC as a forum for dialogue, if 
nothing else.  None of the other participants seem equally 
motivated to keep discussion going, although none want to be 
seen as responsible for scuttling it either.  At this point 
the economic program -- complete with its steering committee 
incorporating the sides and international donors -- is the 
only forum that seems to have broad, enthusiastic support. 
 
TBILISI 00002754  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
TEFFT

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