GEORGIA, SOUTH OSSETIA READY TO START DIALOGUE: EU ENVOY

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TBILISI, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - Belligerents in the Georgian-Osset conflict zone are willing to open a political dialogue, said Haike Taalvittie, special European Union envoy for the South Caucasus. He made a public address in Tbilisi today to sum up his visit to Tskhinvali, capital of South Ossetia, unrecognised republic in Georgia.

The EU envoy does not see whatever current obstacles to conflict settlement negotiations. Contacts with Zubar Zhvania, Georgian Prime Minister, and President Eduard Kokoity of South Ossetia convinced him of both Parties' ample chance for a progressing political dialogue. The European Union is eager to see Georgia's Premier and the South Osset leader at the negotiation table in confidence-building talks.

Tensions somewhat subsided in the conflict zone after a troops pullout was announced on the Georgian top. There is an opportunity now to demilitarise the area, with peacekeepers alone stationed there in compliance with acting understandings. That will come true, however, only if South Ossetia follows the good Georgian example, warned the envoy.

He highlighted Russia's prominence in conflict settlement. Georgia and Russia essentially need a firm basis for their settlement-oriented political dialogue. The OSCE, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, ought to carry on monitoring compliance with available understandings, stressed Mr. Taalvittie.

Violence in the Georgian-Osset conflict reached its peak in 1989-92, as Georgia deprived South Ossetia of autonomy and responded to its independence drive with harsh punitive action. Peacekeeping forces have the area in control since 1992. A joint control commission active in the conflict zone represents Russia, Georgia and the two Osset republics-Georgia's South Ossetia and North Ossetia, Russian constituent republic.

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