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    EU WELCOMES TRUCE IN SOUTH OSSETIA

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    BRUSSELS, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, welcomes the ceasefire agreement between the Georgian and South Ossetian sides.

    "I resolutely call on the parties to continue work to coordinate further measures to reduce tension and to adopt them as soon as possible," reads the statement of the High Representative.

    He expressed regret in connection with "escalation of violence and military confrontation" that had taken place before the agreement and took people's lives.

    "I call on the sides to display reserve and restore tranquility, in conditions of which talks on the search of solution aimed at a final political settlement of the conflict must be held. The decision must be taken proceeding from the observance of Georgia's territorial integrity," reads Mr. Solana's statement.

    The case is that Georgia's "territorial integrity" has for the last 10 years been nothing but a phantom. The coming to power of President Saakashvili was somehow welcomed by Georgian society tired of living in conditions of internecine confrontation and a scrappy state, when the power of the center did not extend to Tbilisi. However, Saakashvili, who seems to still be in euphoria after a fast and bloodless resolution of the Abashidze problem (Adzharian leader since Soviet times), has become hostage to his own promises. Two former Georgian autonomies - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - for the ten years of their "independent" existence have got used to their status of self-proclaimed republics, and the "Adzharian scenario" cannot be used in regard to them because these are interethnic conflicts, though Tbilisi might deny this fact. Abkhazia and South Ossetia categorically reject any possibility of returning under Tbilisi's jurisdiction, whether in the form of the widest autonomy as Saakashvili promises, federative or even confederative state.

    But the Georgian President promised to return the rebellious provinces. Where is the way out? Engaging in an armed adventure with unclear consequences for own political future? Or making agreements with "separatists", as new authorities in Tbilisi name the leaders of unrecognized republics? It is up to Saakashvili to decide. One should remember, though, that times are different now than they were in early 1990s, when, during the vacuum of mighty central power, armed actions against "separatists" could be carried out with no punishment to follow.

    Meanwhile, Irina Gagloyeva, the chairwoman of the South Ossetian information and press committee, said over the phone that "there were no major skirmishes in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict this night, though sporadic shots were heard from time to time."

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