Georgia’s curiosity beyond state borders17.11.2010 | 16:12
Georgia is still grieving over the loss of South Ossetia. Sakartvelo leader Mikheil Saakashvili has been speaking about the need to restore bygone "territorial integrity" over the past two years. Ossetians who saw the joys of Georgian democracy in August 2008 are in no hurry to return to the eccentric politician. However, Tbilisi just can't help being excessively curious about developments in "satellite" states. Hoping for a piece of news, Georgia regularly sends spy drones to the sky of now independent republic.
First reports on a pilotless airborne vehicle entering the sky of the republic from the Georgian side appeared on Sunday. Naturally, South Ossetia could not leave this curiosity unnoticed. Pursuing the trespasser of the air frontier with fire from land, the defense ministry revealed details of the incident. Indeed, the pilotless drone Georgia had bought in Israel was used to collect information.
Many were waiting for explanations from Tbilisi that has decided to go by best-defense-is-offence principle, it seems. Georgian Deputy FM Nino Kalandadze, usually reserved, made a bold statement for journalists that she has no information on reconnaissance flights but "even if they did take place, this is our territory where it is our sovereign right to carry out flights".
Following the diplomat's train of thought present-day South Ossetia must host visiting sessions of parliament like in Georgia, or have military machines moving about unhampered. There is one constraint here - Russia (that stopped Georgian troops from marching victoriously along Tskhinval debris, by the way).
Let's not digress though. The capital of South Ossetia found adequate words to reply to Kalandadze. "South Ossetia is a recognized sovereign state and according to the norms of international law no one has the right to invade its territory", - Valery Yakhnovets, the republic's defense minister said adding that if Georgia considers it due to send pilotless aircrafts, let it go on them. "On our part we consider it due to shoot them down", he promised. - Armed forces of South Ossetia are tasked to provide security throughout the republic, and we will perform this task".
There was also a diplomatic reply. South Ossetian ministry of foreign affairs had to acknowledge with regret that flights of Georgian reconnaissance aircrafts are nothing but an act of provocation in run up to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. "It has become a tradition with Georgia's current regime to invite attention to themselves in run up or at the time of important international events in hope that their ambitions will be supported by Western states", - South Ossetian diplomats emphasized.
Ok, everyone seems to have analyzed the incident, drawn conclusions and got back to daily routine. Far from that. Some Georgian media kept the squabble going calling South Ossetian defense minister "a new commander of Ossetian criminal groups" and "Russian spy" who writes "fantasy stories"
Well, now everyone must know about total spy scare. Still, it is unclear why Tbilisi deprived RSO president Edward Kokoyty of the "honorable" title of "criminal leader" that was passed to Valery Yakhnovets. Probably, Georgian colleagues will explain that later. As for "fantasies" the defense minister of the republic presented, as alleged, - never cast dirt in the fountain, as the saying goes. Maybe, Georgia is wrong to underestimate RSO's air defense system?
This is what GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed with Inal Pliev, an independent South Ossetian politologist.
- I would like to point out that the pilotless aircraft was launched after the statement made by Georgian Interior minister Vano Merabishvili on acts of sabotage, now in preparation by Russia and South Ossetia in the territory of Georgia. The statement is in line with Tbilisi's tactics to accuse others of crimes they commit and ascribe ideas they are nurturing to someone else. That means Georgia itself is making preparations for sabotage attacks in the territory of South Ossetia.
Can the air defense system of the republic oppose air threats from Georgia?
- Time will show. This time the pilotless drone was not taken down, though the Defense Ministry mentioned shooting. That means, shooting must be done with weapons that can take them down. On the whole, it is unclear if Georgia uses spy drones only for reconnaissance. Tbilisi can come up with an idea to send one unmanned aerial vehicle to one of our facilities, can't it? If we don't want to follow the example of Yugoslavia we must focus on building sound air defense operating on a 24/7 basis. I think that after 2008 no one will ask us to explain the fact that we are facing a serious and a well-armed adversary. Now South Ossetia's top priority is security.