South Ossetian independence referendum, 2006
||This article contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (November 2010)|
South Ossetia, an independent partially recognized republic in the South Caucasus, formerly the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic with its capital in Tskhinvali, held a referendum on independence on November 12, 2006. The voters answered the question: "should South Ossetia preserve its present status of a de facto independent state?" 99% of voters supported independence. It coincided with de facto South Ossetian presidential elections, which took place on the same day.
Parallel to the referendum and elections, the Georgia-backed Ossetian opposition movement (People of South Ossetia for Peace) organized its own elections in the village of Eredvi, inhabited by ethnic Georgians, in which both Georgian and some Ossetian inhabitants of the region voted in favour of Dmitry Sanakoyev as the alternative President of South Ossetia. The alternative elections of Sanakoyev claimed full support of the ethnic Georgian population.
On November 13, the Central Election Commission of South Ossetia announced the results of the referendum. 99% of voters have supported the independence, and the turnout amounted to 95.2%.
|South Ossetian independence referendum, 2006|
|Invalid or blank votes||538||1.03%|
The Georgian government has declared both elections illegal, but it is believed to support the Salvation Union of Ossetians, the organization in charge of holding the alternative elections. Kokoity thus accused Tbilisi of staging the alternative elections in order to create a "puppet government" in South Ossetia.
The Georgian side considers this move by de facto authorities in Tskhinvali as a provocative and unconstitutional action, and warns that this decision will further raise the tensions in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone. However, on September 12, 2006, the Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Boris Gryzlov welcomed the appointed South Ossetian referendum and announced that Russian parliamentarians will observe the voting process. On September 13, 2006, the Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues, Merab Antadze, issued a statement, condemning Gryzlov's statement as "destructive."
|“||The secessionist authorities of the South Ossetian region of Georgia are wasting time and effort on the organisation of a "referendum on independence" in November.... I do not think that anyone will recognise the result of such a referendum. If the people in power in South Ossetia are genuinely committed to the interest of the people they claim to represent, they should engage in meaningful negotiations with the Georgian government in order to find a peaceful, internationally accepted outcome.||”|
The European Union Special Representative to the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, also downplayed the forthcoming South Ossetian referendum and said in Moscow, on September 13, that the referendum would not contribute to the conflict resolution process in South Ossetia.
On the other hand, the head of the Institute of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Countries and the member of the Russian State Duma, Konstantin Zatulin, is quoted on October 2, 2006 as saying:
|“||Recognition of the so-called unrecognized states is not far off. Unrecognized republics have all attributes of state system and stable democratic system.||”|
On October 2, 2006, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said during his visit to Tbilisi:
|“||I call the South Ossetian authorities’ intention to hold a referendum counterproductive. It will not be recognized by the international community and it will not be recognized by the OSCE and it will impede the peace process.||”|
|“||On behalf of NATO, I join other international leaders in rejecting the so-called 'referendum' and 'elections' conducted in the South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region of Georgia... Such actions serve no purpose other than to exacerbate tensions in the South Caucasus region.||”|
On November 11, 2006, Luis Tascón, a member of the National Assembly of Venezuela, stated during a press-conference in Tskhinvali:
|“||Those people who wish to be free will be free. And the free peoples will help South Ossetia with it.||”|
He also hinted that Venezuela might eventually recognize the South Ossetian independence:
|“||Knowing president Chávez well, I'm sure he'll make a correct decision, since he always sees when the people choose their path. Unfortunately, my presence here does not imply that my government will recognize the South Ossetian independence, but it signifies the beginning of a process when it's time to think about this problem.||”|
|“||All peoples have the right for self-determination, and it cannot be ignored.||”|
He also made a commitment to inform the other members of the parliament of his observations.
On November 13, the European Union foreign ministers and the OSCE reiterated that they will not recognize the referendum and condemned it as unproductive. An EU statement was later joined by Ukraine.
- Two Referendums and Two “Presidents” in South Ossetia
- "99% of South Ossetian voters approve independence". Regnum. November 13, 2006. Retrieved November 27, 2006.
- Staging ‘Alternative Choice’ for S.Ossetia, Online Magazine - Civil Georgia, November 7, 2006.
- South Ossetia to Elect Two Presidents, Kommersant, November 11, 2006.
- Georgia: South Ossetia Seeks To Contain Opposition Challenge, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 10, 2006.
- Tbilisi Slams Russian Speaker for "Destructive Statement." Online Magazine-Civil Georgia. Retrieved on September 13, 2006.
- Council of Europe Secretary General calls for talks instead of "referendum" in the Georgian region of South Ossetia. Council of Europe Information Office in Georgia. Retrieved on September 13, 2006.
- http://22.214.171.124/eng/article.php?id=13544. Retrieved on September 13, 2006.
- Recognition of so-called unrecognized states is not far off Regnum News Agency. Retrieved on October 2, 2006.
- OSCE Chairman Calls for South Ossetia Top Level Talks, Civil Georgia, October 2, 2006.
- NATO rejects referendum in Georgia's South Ossetia region, International Herald Tribune, November 11, 2006.
- Наблюдатель из Венесуэлы: Южная Осетия будет свободной, Regnum News Agency, November 11, 2006.
- Уго Чавес может признать независимость Южной Осетии, Rosbalt News Agency, November 11, 2006.
- Депутат Сейма Латвии: каждый народ имеет право на самоопределение (Южная Осетия), Regnum News Agency, November 11, 2006.
- International Community Will Not Recognize South Ossetia Vote, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 13, 2006.
- Ukraine does not recognize South Ossetia referendum - ministry, Interfax, November 13, 2006.