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OSCE: the gas pipeline to South Ossetia is undamaged2009-01-15 10:04
On 13th January OSCE experts acknowledged that the South Ossetian section of the Tbilisi-Tskhinvali gas pipeline is in perfect working order. They checked a stretch of 17 kilometres in length.
The first deputy prime minister of the republic Khasan Pliev immediately passed on the conclusions reached by the delegation that had arrived in Tskhinvali to journalists:
"There is no leak in South Ossetia," Interfax quotes Pliev. "The experts have become convinced that the lack of gas in South Ossetia is of a political nature and reflects pressure by Georgia on our republic. And the references given by Tbilisi have not been substantiated, which we have mentioned before. To resume the gas supplies, all that is required is the desire of the Georgian side."
Back on 23rd December the Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu had already declared that the South Ossetian section of the Tbilisi-Tskhinvali gas pipeline was in working order.
The delegation made up of the acting chairman of the OSCE Charalampos Christopoulos, an adviser to his special representative Alexis Katsarias, as well as the Austrian energy expert Werner Johannides arrived in Tskhinvali on the morning of 13th January to check the South Ossetian part of the gas pipeline.
The day before, on 12th January, Khasan Pliev remarked that the visit of the OSCE experts should remove any questions concerning technical problems preventing the gas supplies.
The President of the republic Eduard Kokoity hosted the OSCE delegates at his residence. He emphasized that South Ossetia and the Russian Federation were doing everything they possibly could to resume the gas supplies, and expressed his own readiness to grant all possible help to the OSCE delegation in their checking of the gas pipeline.
Meanwhile the president expressed bewilderment that the visit of international experts was taking place only now. After all, "thanks to Georgia, this is the sixth month running that South Ossetia has not been receiving its natural resources".
However, it cannot be ruled out that this delay was caused by the excessive trust that Europe has shown in the information which it has received from the Georgians. Which Christopoulos himself unintentionally admitted. He said at the meeting with Kokoity that Georgia had switched off the gas supply on 8th August as a result of a sharp increase in the amount of fuel being consumed - which provoked the enormous bewilderment of Kokoity. Really, whatever could the consumption increase for?.