International mediators report that Russia and Georgia have agreed to work out their differences on the status of the region along the border between Georgia and the newly independent enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Still, the sides failed to finalize a text on the management of the area’s security and refugees.
EU representative Pierre Morel said the participants agreed “on principles in broad terms,” and talks are expected to continue ahead of the next meeting in February.
Assistant US Secretary of State Daniel Fried said both Georgia and Russia were willing to accept the text as presently written, but blamed the representatives of the South Ossetian and Abkhaz governments for the inability to finalize the deal. Georgian official Giga Bokeria condemned the lack of a deal, blaming the “Russian Federation” and “those proxy de facto representatives.”
The brief August war between Russia and Georgia destroyed much of Georgia’s military and led to Russia formally recognizing the enclaves’ long-standing claims of independence from Georgia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to reclaim the enclaves, and Georgia’s parliament has defended Saakashvili’s decision to attack South Ossetia in August, claiming it was a “defensive war.”