31 Mar 2022 13:06

Georgia calls S. Ossetian declaration of wish to join Russia provocative

TBILISI. March 31 (Interfax) - The Georgian Dream ruling party has described a statement by South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov on planning a referendum on South Ossetia's unification with the Russian Federation as provocative and has said it is awaiting the reaction of Moscow.

"Obviously, the number of provocations against Georgia will be growing. We should wait for Russia's response to the intention of so-called South Ossetia to join the Russian Federation. This reaction will send an additional message regarding Moscow's attitude to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia," ruling party co-leader, parliament deputy Beka Davituliani told reporters on Thursday.

Georgia is now able to use international instruments to respond "to such steps in regard to the occupied Georgian territories," Davituliani said.

"At present, Georgia cannot protect what belongs to it by force, this is out of the question," he said.

In the opinion of Girchi opposition party leader, parliament deputy Yago Khvichia, Georgia should respond to the plans of "the separatists" with greater integration with the West, "so that this problem stops being entirely Georgian."

Bibilov said on Wednesday that South Ossetia was planning to take legal steps in the near future and to initiate the process of admission to the Russian Federation.

"I view the unification with Russia as our strategic objective. This is our path. This is a desire of our people. So, we shall follow this path. We will take relevant legal steps in short order. The Republic of South Ossetia will exist as part of its historical homeland, Russia," Bibilov said in a statement published by the United Russia party's press service.

Bibilov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel (VGTRK) on Thursday that South Ossetia could merge with North Ossetia in the event of its admission to the Russian Federation.

Later on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that South Ossetia's unification with Russia and the respective referendum are a matter of the people's choice, which is respected by Russia.

"I cannot present any stance [on the unification and the referendum]. We have not taken any legal or other moves to this end but, at the same time, this is a matter of the expression of an opinion by the people of South Ossetia, and we treat it with respect," Peskov said at a press briefing.