Presidents of Russia and South Ossetia, Vladimir Putin and Leonid Tibilov, signed an Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia on Alliance and Integration after negotiations in Moscow on March 18.
The two leaders discussed bilateral relations and coordination in the area of stability and security in the Caucasus region, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Vladimir Putin called the agreement another big step towards improvement of the contractual basis of the relations with South Ossetia and development of integration processes and partnerships. “I know that a lot of work has been accomplished of late so that we can carry out our plans. Of course, there are still more things to do and we will have a good opportunity today to discuss the current state of affairs in terms of developing the social sector and economy, and the additional steps we need to take over the coming period,” the Kremlin press office quotes Vladimir Putin as saying.
Leonid Tibilov, in turn, said alliance and integration is the response to the “challenges and threats the modern world puts before us.” “We know that the Russian Federation is our people and republic’s only guarantor, and I am particularly happy that this event is taking place today, on what is such a symbolic date in the Russian people’s life. It was exactly a year ago that the agreement was signed by which the people of Crimea and Sevastopol, having expressed their free will, found their Motherland. We welcomed that decision right from the first. South Ossetia welcomes all of Russia’s political decisions and we always stand at your side,” Tibilov said.
Under the Agreement of Alliance and Integration between the Russian Federation and South-Ossetian Republic, the two countries will establish a common defense and security space, allow free movement across the Russia-South Ossetia border, integrate their customs services, develop cooperation between their interior ministries, and simplify the procedures for obtaining Russian citizenship. The agreement also covers the social dimension, including pensions. It sets out the procedures for the cooperation in the social sector, including on raising pensions and public sector wages in South Ossetia and establishing a compulsory insurance system there. The Agreement was concluded for 25 years and is yet to be ratified by the two countries’ parliament.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Vladimir Putin said additional 1 billion rubles will be provided to South Ossetia for implementation of the Agreement in 2016. In the period from 2008 up to 2014 South Ossetia received nearly 43 billion rubles from Russia.
Meanwhile, the West has already slammed the agreement calling it “illegal.”
U.S. Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Washington does not recognize the Agreement between Russia and South Ossetia. “The United States position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia remains clear. These regions are integral parts of Georgia. We continue to support Georgia’s independence, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity. The United States does not recognize the legitimacy of any so-called treaty between the de facto leaders of Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation,” Psaki said at the daily press briefing.
EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini believes the agreement “will be yet another step that goes against ongoing efforts to strengthen security and stability in the region.” “Furthermore, the signature of this document on the very day of the 31st round of Geneva International Discussions creates circumstances that do not foster a constructive climate for efforts to improve the security and humanitarian situation on the ground,” Mogherini said.
Spokesperson of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov recommended the U.S. Department to refrain from comments on the Agreement of Alliance between Russia and South Ossetia. “The presidents of Russia and South Ossetia put their signatures under the document, and these signatures require no third-party comments,” Peskov said.
Earlier, in November 2014, Russia and Abkhazia signed a similar Agreement of Alliance and Strategic Partnership. The document came into effect on March 5 2015.