South Ossetia, Abkhazia Mark One Year Anniversary Of Independence
A year ago on August 26, 2008, the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were officially recognized by Russia as two independent states. The recognition of independence came in the wake of the "five-day" military confrontation between Georgia and Russia over Georgia's attack on South Ossetia on August 8, 2008. Nicaragua became the second state to have recognized the independence of the two republics.
"A decision needs to be taken based on the situation on the ground. Considering the freely expressed will of the Ossetian and Abkhaz peoples and being guided by the provisions of the UN Charter, the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Governing Friendly Relations Between States, the CSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and other fundamental international instruments, I signed Decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence. Russia calls on other states to follow its example. This is not an easy choice to make, but it represents the only possibility to save human lives."
A year later today, celebrations took place in the capitals of Tskhinval and Sukhumi. But, as the two breakaway regions find themselves in legal, economic and diplomatic limbo over their territories, there is still a lot of uncertainty.
Anniversary celebrations are expected to be low-key in both regions on Wednesday, not extending beyond firework displays and speeches by local leaders.
To mark the first anniversary of Russia's recognition on August 26, Russian and South Ossetian officials plan to unveil a new housing settlement on the outskirts of Tskhinvali. The settlement, called the Moscow District, was built on what was previously a Georgian village until its residents were driven out during last summer's war.
Today, Russia launched a new pipeline to carry natural gas directly to South Ossetia, bypassing Georgia.
Putin and Kokoity met Wednesday on the first anniversary of Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and a second breakaway republic, Abkhazia, following a brief war between Russia and Georgia.
Putin characterized the decision to recognize South Ossetia’s independence as “a firm guarantee of peace in the region and of the survival of two nations.”
To date, Georgian government considers South Ossetia and Abkhazia to be part of its territory. In a statement from August 28, 2008, Parliament of Georgia declared territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia "Russian-occupied."