BATUMI, July 10 (RIA Novosti, Marina Kvaratskhelia) - Georgia was ready to grant its breakaway South Ossetia region the status of autonomy, the Georgian president said. Mikhail Saakashvili announced this initiative at an international conference, "The Georgian Government's Initiatives on the Peaceful Settlement of the South Ossetian Conflict," being held in Batumi (Adzharia).
According to Saakashvili, Georgia demands that South Ossetian authorities should immediately re-open dialog and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should intensify its work in the area of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict.
'We are ready to pay compensations to the victims of the conflict, discuss the creation of a free economic zone and ease the regime of crossing the Georgian state border into Russia," Saakashvili said.
South Ossetia is a self-proclaimed republic formally staying within Georgia. Not a single country recognized its independence.
Saakashvili said that the Georgian authorities were ready to make broad concessions to grant autonomy to South Ossetia. But the Georgian president said, "Everyone must understand that we will not allow Georgia to fall into parts and will resist toughly any attempts by our territories to proclaim independence."
Saakashvili also said Russia's role was important to settle the conflict. "It is important for us to maintain a dialog with Russia on this problem and we are ready to remove all disputable issues," the Georgian president said.
Members of the Georgian government, some public figures from South Ossetia, non-governmental organizations, diplomats and representatives of international organizations are attending the two-day conference in Batumi.
Earlier, head of the breakaway region Eduard Kokoity said that representatives of South Ossetia would not participate in the conference. 'This is a new PR action designed for western sponsors," Kokoity said.