07TBILISI816, SOUTH OSSETIA ADMINISTRATIVE STATUS LAW MOVES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI816 2007-04-13 12:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4078
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0816/01 1031217
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 131217Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6058
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000816 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: SOUTH OSSETIA ADMINISTRATIVE STATUS LAW MOVES 
THROUGH PARLIAMENT 
 
REF: TBILISI 641 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b)&(d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (SBU) Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze briefed the 
diplomatic corps April 11 on the draft law establishing a new 
autonomous status for South Ossetia, which had passed 
Parliament in second reading just hours earlier.  Parliament 
passed the bill in third and final reading April 13. 
Burjanadze and European Integration Committee chair David 
Bakradze explained that the law was intentionally not 
detailed, and that many specifics of the autonomy would be 
worked out in consultations between the Georgian government 
and representatives of the local population.  They stressed 
that all representatives would be invited to take part in 
these talks, including de facto "president" Kokoity and 
"alternative president" Sanakoyev.  They called for 
international support for the initiative, which they said was 
designed to give the people of South Ossetia a role in 
determining their future and would guarantee European-style 
autonomy and preservation of ethnic identity.  Following the 
bill's final passage, opposition leader Davit Gamkrelidze 
publicly called on both Kokoity and Sanakoyev to participate. 
 End Summary. 
 
Tbilisi Not Dictating Details of Autonomy 
----------------------------------------- 
2. (SBU) Burjanadze explained to assembled ambassadors that 
the draft law was designed to promote peaceful conflict 
resolution by guaranteeing rights and building cooperation 
with the population of South Ossetia (translation of draft 
law faxed to EUR/CARC).  Recognizing opposition faction 
leaders present in the briefing, she stressed that this 
initiative had the unified support of all parties, and she 
noted the bill passed in second reading April 11 with support 
from all but one MP.  Burjanadze said Georgia was open to 
meetings with any representatives of South Ossetian 
communities, including Kokoity. 
 
3. (SBU) Bakradze said the initiative would increase the 
South Ossetian population's participation in the peace 
process, and he stressed that all political forces would have 
the opportunity to take part.  He conceded that some were 
likely to be more interested than others, but he stressed 
that the door was open to all.  He explained that Georgia did 
not intend to obstruct existing mechanisms in the peace 
process, but given the lack of progress Georgia was also 
looking for new approaches.  He said the initiative was 
intended to create conditions for a wide, European-style 
autonomy with provisions for real self-government and 
preservation of ethnic identity, while creating conditions 
for democratic elections. 
 
4. (SBU) Bakradze noted that the draft law did not define the 
majority of functions of the new administrative unit.  He 
said the Georgian government had not wanted to do this 
unilaterally, but would instead, after the law was 
promulgated and the new unit formally created, invite all 
representatives of the community to participate in 
consultations to decide jointly on the structure, 
competencies, and name of the temporary entity.  Once 
agreement was reached with participating forces, those forces 
would them be delegated power as the administration of an 
autonomous region.  He stressed that they would not be 
considered presidential appointees or part of the Georgian 
executive branch. 
 
Russian Ambassador: Will Kokoity Agree? 
--------------------------------------- 
5. (SBU) During the question period, the Russian Ambassador 
asked if the Georgian government had already consulted with 
Sanakoyev and Kokoity, and if it was "sure Kokoity is open to 
negotiations."  Burjanadze reiterated that Georgia was open 
to speaking with both sides.  She noted that Georgia had made 
many overtures for meetings with Kokoity, and remained ready 
if the de facto authorities showed interest in talks.  She 
said there were indications that Sanakoyev is ready to 
participate in "serious consultations."  Burjanadze added 
that the international community, especially the OSCE and 
Russia, could play a constructive role in encouraging Kokoity 
to participate, commenting that she was sure he would do so 
if Russia "strongly recommends" it.  Following the briefing, 
the Russian Ambassador told the press assembled outside the 
room that the Georgian initiative was a step in the wrong 
direction. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
TBILISI 00000816  002 OF 002 
 
 
6. (C) While the Georgians do not expect Kokoity to 
participate in the consultations envisioned in the law, they 
are putting the ball in his court to say no.  Burjanadze and 
Bakradze were careful to stress that they also do not 
consider Sanakoyev a legitimately elected leader, and at this 
stage he is merely one of multiple community representatives 
who will be invited to the talks.  Bakradze did say, however, 
that Sanakoyev's emergence sent an important message of 
reconciliation: that a man who fought the Georgians with a 
Kalashnikov in his hands could now be their
partner in the 
peace process.  Clearly the Georgians see Sanakoyev as the 
eventual leader of the new administrative unit, but they have 
significantly modified their description of the entity since 
Saakashvili announced the idea in March.  At that time, one 
top official suggested the new entity could be headed by a 
presidentially appointed governor (reftel), something that 
would resemble the practice in other Georgian regions.  Now, 
they are planning to sit down with Sanakoyev (and possibly 
others) to hammer out an autonomous status that provides 
special guarantees for self-government and mQrity rights. 
 
TEFFT

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