So-Called Elections Held in Occupied Tskhinvali Region

Twenty percent of Georgia’s territory is occupied: the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and the region around the municipality of Tskhinvali, what the Georgian government calls the Tskhinvali Region and what local de-facto authorities call South Ossetia. This week, the de-facto authorities of the Tskhinvali region held ‘elections.’ The elections were widely rejected and condemned by Georgia’s allies, including the United States of America, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic, all repeating the key words ‘sovereignty,’ ‘territorial integrity,’ and ‘internationally recognized borders.’ The only countries in the world that recognize South Ossetia as an independent country are Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Syria.

The European Union rejected the so-called parliamentary elections. EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic released a statement on Wednesday affirming that “the European Union supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, as recognized by international law.” She emphasized the consistency of the EU position in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Kocijancic continued, “In view of so-called elections that took place on the 9th of June in the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, we recall that the European Union does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework in which these so-called elections took place.”

NATO also rejected the so-called elections. James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, told reporters that “NATO does not recognize the so-called elections” in the Tskhinvali region. Appathurai also repeated NATO’s support for Georgia’s territorial integrity.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also expressed concern over the so-called elections. The PACE co-rapporteurs for Georgia, Titus Corlatean and Claude Kern, made a joint statement, saying “We reiterate our full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally-recognized borders. The so-called parliamentary elections in the Georgian region of South Ossetia that took place last Sunday are therefore neither legal nor legitimate. They hinder the peaceful settlement of the conflict and instead of uniting people they only drive them further apart. We can only condemn that.” The pair plans to conduct a fact-finding mission to Georgia in the first week of July in the framework of ongoing monitoring activities.

The Foreign Ministry of Georgia also condemned the so-called elections, arguing that the process “blatantly violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.” The process, read a statement from the Ministry on Sunday, “represents yet another futile attempt by Russia and its occupation regime in Tskhinvali to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, the illegal occupation and forceful change of the sovereign borders of Georgia.”

The so-called elections were held on June 9. Local residents went to the ballot box to elect 34 MPs to the so-called parliament, 17 of which were elected from party lists, while 17 are majoritarian. In a May 20 op-ed for GEORGIA TODAY, political commentator Zaza Jgarkava said that during the pre-election period, candidates made dramatic promises, including ending unemployment, increasing incomes by 10 times, and turning Tskhinvali into the next Geneva. Jgarkava said that “The issue of the August War 2008 and ‘aggression’ of Tbilisi still dominate the narrative, with de-facto President Anatoly Bibilov and his party United Ossetia especially concentrating on it.”

Despite the de-facto ruling party’s confidence, their margin of victory was far lower than the 2014 elections, as reported by DFWatch. In 2014, United Ossetia won 45% of the vote, while this Sunday, they took home just 35%. This opened a space for the opposition People’s Party, whose 22% dwarfed their 9.5% in 2014. The Nykhaz party took 14%, Unity 13%, and the Communist party just over 7%.

In the run up to the so-called elections, the crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line were temporarily closed.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source:

13 June 2019 18:47