The “People’s Party of the Republic of South Ossetia” opposes the re-opening of Ergneti market (closed by the Georgian authorities in 2004; before that a thriving trade place where thousands of Georgians and South Ossetians connected), which is currently being discussed in the media.
Basing their statement on the position of South Ossetia’s foreign ministry, which “has always been in favour of peaceful settlement of relations with neighbouring Georgia on an equal footing,” representatives of the party conclude that “This means that Georgia must first recognise South Ossetia’s independence and that only in this way relations between Georgia and South Ossetia will be normalised. ”
You can, of course, hang on to the principle of “recognition first, and everything else can follow “. But the chances of reaching any result with this approach are extremely small: in the current political environment, there is not even the slightest hint that recognition will actually take place, while other results, more modest but also more achievable in the near future, do not count and are not being pursued under this vision. In the meantime “relations on an equal basis” does not necessarily have to mean recognition when it comes to everyday, pragmatic issues, but can also be interpreted as equal participation in a given format (as happens e.g. in the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM)).
In its statement, the People’s Party further notes that “The presence of cheap goods and agricultural products will stagnate the development of local production. Trade relations with the Georgian side will place citizens of South Ossetia in a situation of financial dependence on Georgian traders“. One would be tempted to ask how to local production developed over the past 3 years of complete economic isolation from Georgia? Is really possible to think that tiny South Ossetia, with its limited resources, would economically be better off in isolation, that it can produce all necessary good all by itself? Trade is not only a connecting factor, but also a necessary component of any healthy economic system. And financial dependence will appear as much on the side of Georgian producers and traders as it will, possibly, on that of Ossetian buyers. But on the forefront of the debate I would like to place not interdependence (a completely healthy phenomenon between neighbours), but the development of mutually beneficial relationships!