Saturday 8 March 2008
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ruled out an American recognition of the Georgian secessionist region of South Ossetia.
Speaking to journalist en route to Brussels for a NATO foreign ministerial council, she said: «It is not going to happen.»
South Ossetian secessionist authorities had called on the international community to recognize its independence. A journalist asked the U.S. secretary of state whether she thought the appeal was “a provocation” from Moscow, «or do you think it’s something inevitable?»
Rice responded: «I don’t want to try to judge the motives, but we’ve been very clear that Kosovo is sui generic and that that is because of the special circumstances out of which the break-up of Yugoslavia came. The special circumstances of the aggression of the Milosevic forces against Kosovars, particularly Albanian Kosovars, and it’s a special circumstance.»
The Ossetians are originally descendants of Iranian tribes from Eurasian Steppes. They became Christians during the early Middle Ages, under Georgian influence.
South Ossetia was an autonomous oblast of Georgia in Soviet times. The majority of the territory including the capital of Tskhinvali is administered by the government of the de facto independent South Ossetian Republic, which declared independence from Georgia.
South Ossetia’s declaration of independence is not recognised by any country. However parts of eastern and southern South Ossetia are controlled by the Georgian government. Georgia does not recognise South Ossetia as a distinct or independent entity. Nevertheless, in April of 2007, the Georgian government created a temporary administrative unit (Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia) headed by ethnic Ossetians (former members of separatist government) which would enable Tbilisi to administer the region through local leaders, negotiate with Ossetian authorities regarding its final status and conflict resolution.