07TBILISI1619, GOOD SIGNS AND BAD AT SOUTH OSSETIA DONORS’

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1619 2007-07-09 13:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6945
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1619/01 1901321
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091321Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6939
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001619 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID OSCE GG
SUBJECT: GOOD SIGNS AND BAD AT SOUTH OSSETIA DONORS' 
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1573 
 
     B. TBILISI 1563 
     C. TBILISI 1540 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b)&(d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (C) A July 2 meeting in Tskhinvali of the Steering 
Committee for the donors' South Ossetia economic 
rehabilitation projects was marked by confrontations between 
the Georgian and South Ossetian sides -- including over 
whether the Georgian delegation would be allowed into South 
Ossetia for the meeting, and over proposals for inspection of 
the regions' contested drinking water pipeline.  In between 
these disputes, however, the sides managed to agree to 
authorize contracting for the first three school 
reconstruction projects, and endorsed moving ahead in other 
areas as well.  End Summary. 
 
Difficult Entry, Difficult Exit 
------------------------------- 
2. (C) The meeting, which had been delayed several weeks 
because of Georgian concerns about a lack of information on 
the projects (ref C), started over two hours late, in part 
because South Ossetian officials initially refused to allow 
the Georgian delegation to enter the separatist region. 
South Ossetian officials explained to donor representatives 
during the wait that they had told the Georgians each side 
would be limited to two participants, but the Georgians 
showed up with four officials of the State Ministry of 
Conflict Resolution.  After considerable negotiation the 
South Ossetians relented and allowed all four Georgians in 
for the meeting.  Donors would later find it difficult to 
exit South Ossetia as well; by the time the meeting was over 
Georgian farmers protesting the South Ossetians' closure of 
an irrigation canal had blocked and partially dug up the 
Transcaucasian Highway just inside Georgian-controlled 
territory south of Tskhinvali.  Donors took another route 
back to Tbilisi. 
 
Impasse over Pipe Inspection 
---------------------------- 
3. (SBU) Although it was not an item on the meeting's agenda, 
the sides spent much time sparring over proposals for a joint 
inspection of the drinking water pipeline that runs from the 
separatist-controlled north, through a Georgian enclave, to 
Tskhinvali (ref B).  The Georgians proposed that, after the 
 
SIPDIS 
meeting, participants travel to Java in the separatist area, 
and proceed from there to conduct a full inspection of the 
pipe, including in Georgian areas.  The South Ossetians 
refused, insisting that an inspection begin in Kheiti, where 
the Georgians repaired a damaged section of pipe in early 
June, and proceed elsewhere from there.  No agreement was 
reached (ref A), and each side expressed certainty that any 
problems affecting water volume were caused in the other 
side's area.  DCM noted that the donors' projects were 
intended to help solve problems such as this, and urged the 
sides to use the opportunity to improve the water network 
rather than arguing about where to start an inspection. 
 
And Yet...Some Progress 
----------------------- 
4. (SBU) Despite all the difficulties, the two sides agreed 
to all the items OSCE had put on the meeting's official 
agenda, most notably authorizing OSCE to contract for the 
reconstruction of three schools.  OSCE agreed that it would 
share with the sides by July 3 full documentation about all 
bids for the projects, with the understanding that if neither 
side objected by July 5 OSCE could go ahead.  (OSCE confirmed 
to us July 6 that both sides had received the materials and 
neither had voiced objections.)  Participants also endorsed 
OSCE's proposal to plan for constructing a combined clinic 
and school in Sveri, a modification of the originally agreed 
project that was only a clinic.  The sides also expressed 
support for OSCE's approach on several water-related 
projects, three of which are nearing the conclusion of the 
bidding process, and responded positively to OSCE's 
suggestion of another Steering Committee meeting in the near 
feature to focus on water issues.  OSCE briefed on ongoing 
agricultural and business development trainings and other 
activities, and the Georgians expressed concerns about South 
Ossetian efforts to limit participation in certain activities. 
 
Comment 
------- 
5. (C) While this meeting contained more than the usual 
amount of confrontation between the sides, in the end it 
achieved everything OSCE had hoped it would, permitting the 
first school re-construction projects to get underway.  Since 
 
TBILISI 00001619  002 OF 002 
 
 
the meeting, the Georgians have taken at least two steps 
designed to lower tensions: seeking agreement for an OSCE 
team to inspect the drinking water pipe, and proposing a 
meeting of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) without a set 
agenda (although the South Ossetians subsequently announced 
they could not accept the Georgians' proposed site, Tbilisi). 
 Neverthele
ss, as a sudden standoff between the sides in 
Avnevi July 6 demonstrates, the potential for a major 
escalation in tensions remains. 
 
TEFFT

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