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South Ossetia in charge for nothing2012-05-03 11:55
Ergneti market on the border of South Ossetia and Georgia was something much greater than just a market. The largest center of contraband trade of the South Caucasus, Ergneti was the site of the active cooperation of the Georgians and Ossetians, directly affecting the political situation in the region. The market is not functioning for eight years. At the last meeting of the Georgian and South Ossetian sides the new Prosecutor General of South Ossetia Merab Chigoev made a statement that was interpreted by Georgian media as a proposal to restore cross-border trade. It has caused a scandal in South Ossetia.
Merab Chigoev has just become Prosecutor General of the republic, taking the place of the infamous Teimuraz Khugaev. Prior to that, the main Chigoev's occupation was the Georgian-Ossetian dialogue. At the last meeting in the border village of Ergneti, Chigoev said that the market in Ergneti had played its role in the exchange of goods between Georgians and Ossetians. Within minutes the news about willingness of the official Tskhinval to restore market was widespread. But according to the very Prosecutor General, he did not mean that the Ossetian side was ready to re-open the market.
It hasn't become a sensation, but the scandal has turned out good. As it turned out, in Tskhinval, not everyone is ready to gladly accept the idea of re-opening Ergneti market. Restoration of the market is a political issue.
Ergneti village is five minutes away from Tskhinval, but the "iron curtain" hangs between them. The boundary is under lock and key, and there is no crossing point here anymore. Ergneti was seriously affected by the war, every third or fourth house here was destroyed. People can cross the border only in a remote Leningor district, where mainly Georgian population lives.
But until 2004, situation here was quite different. On the Georgian side of the border there was huge market in which goods from Georgia, Russia and other countries flowed. The bazaar was really working Ossetian-Georgian economic project. Moreover, it was a political project, which seriously reduced the level of confrontation in the conflict zone. But Mikheil Saakashvili, having come to power, closed the market, fighting smuggling. Many experts considered this step one of the most ill-advised decision of the Georgian leader. While the market was working, guns were silent. After its closure the situation gone worse.
In Ergneti, the people would be happy from the market re-opening most of all. While there was trade, the village lived comfortably. Now it is a dead end. In Tskhinval, they agree that the residents would benefit from this. In South Ossetia, for some reason, there are very few fruits and vegetables, and if the Georgian gifts of nature are sold here, then food prices would not be so sky-high, often higher than in Moscow. But in this case the policy is above the consumer conveniences. Recently there was a war, and those who form opinion in South Ossetia, prefer to pay more for food than to buy something Georgian. Such is the view of the journalist Madina Shavlohova. "Chigoev did not say that Ossetia intended to re-open this market. He's well aware that no one would pat him on the head. Initially, they attributed its re-opening to Robert Kokoev, then to Brovtsev and now to Chigoev. And why should it be opened? Have the Georgians pleaded their guilty to the Ossetians? And have they signed non-aggression pact?", Shavlohova said.