South Ossetia's independence will be recognized by 2007 - President Kokoity

RIA Novosti, Russia
June 1 2005

MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - South Ossetia, a self-proclaimed
republic in Georgia, will certainly have its independence recognized,
de facto and de jure, by 2007, South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity
said at a press conference in Moscow today.

"Political experts in the West are yielding to recognize, both
de facto and legally, Kosovo, South Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh
[Armenian-populated area in Azerbaijan]. Current developments in
South Ossetia show we have a genuine republic taken shape, and real
statehood," he said.

The president does not rule out South Ossetia joining the Russian
Federation after recognition. It may do so through a merger with
North Ossetia, an autonomy in Russia, which borders on South Ossetia.

"International organizations are in dire opposition to that prospect,
and pressuring South Ossetia, to an extent, by saying its recognition
can come under consideration but not in the context of possible
unification with Russia," said President Kokoity.

The heads of four unrecognized republics, Abkhazia in Georgia, South
Ossetia, Transdniestria in Moldova, and Nagorny Karabakh, intend
to meet in conference within the month. "This conference will be of
extreme importance to the republics. We want to coordinate action,
and help each other to bolster our statehood. Democrats are putting
it differently saying they want to help each other gain freedom."

Kokoity does not think it necessary for South Ossetia, Abkhazia,
Transdniestria and Nagorny Karabakh to arrange joint military
exercises. "They may be held, but we don't think we need them very
much as saber-rattling will take us nowhere."

The unrecognized republics have said on many occasions that they
are willing to come to each other's rescue in need, "but we prefer
political dialogue."

The president arrived in Moscow to discuss "integration prospects and
settle the problems of Russian nationals in South Ossetia," he said.

People who became Russian citizens within a few preceding years make
a majority of the South Ossetian population. "They are encountering
particular problems, with which I try to solve."

The president's current visit to Moscow does not envisage contacts with
Russian leader. "We are tackling economic matters now," Kokoity said.