Smith Calls For Restraint in South Ossetia

08 August 2008
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today called for restraint in South Ossetia in the wake of reports that Russian forces have crossed the border between Russia and the semi-autonomous province of South Ossetia, in Georgia. Mr Smith was in Tiblisi in late 2006 for peace talks and has maintained an interest in the region since. He has called on the EU to intervene in the dispute and hold talks in Brussels with a view to establishing a viable constitutional status for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the other Georgian province in dispute with Tiblisi.

Speaking from Edinburgh Smith said:

"This afternoon's news that Russian troops have crossed into Georgia is very, very troubling, though sadly not much of a surprise. South Ossetia has been a tinderbox for some time now and there has been a marked increase in tension lately, with fault lying on all sides of the dispute. Reports that troops from Abkhazia are also involved assisting the South Ossetians is particularly worrying given that the two provinces only really have hostility to Tiblisi to unite them.

"Georgia is a European country, as is at least part of Russia, and this invasion, whether in response to provocation or not, cannot stand.

"The EU has been active in the region seeking to bridge the divisions within Georgian society, we must redouble those efforts with a view to establishing a permanent and viable solution for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In these talks nothing should be off the table, and if the only viable solution is secession of these two provinces from Georgia then this must be within the remit of talks. The alternative would appear to be permanent occupation by Russia."