Republic of South Ossetia is located оn the southern slopes of the Main Caucasus Range in the area of 3900 square meters. Тhe capital is the city of Tskhinval.
One-tenth of the surface occupied by the Republic of the foothills.
The rest of the territory - the mountainous terrain height from 850 to 3938 meters above sea level.
The highest point - Mount Halatsa (3938 m).

South Ossetia Foreign Minister Kazbulat Tskhovrebov Interview to Res IA

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- How was the year 2015 for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? What in your opinion is the best remembered activity conducted by the Ministry the expiring year?

- We consider last year being rather successful for the Ministry, as in general we gained full range of the objectives that had been set by the President of the Republic. Work of the MFA is a specific activity and therefore, one can not measure its results and effectiveness in any units. Work of our department is an everyday painstaking work conducted by many people, aimed at strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation with partners of the Republic, defending South Ossetia national interests at international stage and improving the image of our state.

Some restructuring measures, aimed at improving services, were taken; effective workflow management has been implemented this year. Internal code of conduct was established in the Ministry, diplomatic passports of the Republic of South Ossetia were issued. Two bills, prepared by the Ministry, have been introduced into the Parliament and are now under consideration. Despite the tense situation worldwide and difficult working conditions, our department will keep on improving its performance to benefit South Ossetia people.

- One of the important focus areas in foreign policy department’s service, among other issues, is strengthening collaboration with those states that recognized the independence of South Ossetia. Tell, please, about this work.

- Indeed, it is important for us to develop and strengthen further mutually beneficial cooperation with the states South Ossetia has established diplomatic relations with. Our main political goal is further development and strengthening friendly ties with the Russian Federation and sub-federal regions. The Treaty on Alliance and Integration, that would significantly affect living standards of people and relations between our countries, was signed on March 18, 2015 between the Republic South Ossetia and the Russian Federation.

A number of geographically remote states recognized the independence of South Ossetia that considerably complicates the process of active development of relationship. Nevertheless, we conduct systematic diplomatic work and pursue cultural diplomacy initiatives.

We have developed long-lasting relations with the Republic of Abkhazia, the Moldovan Transdniestrian Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and are progressively strengthening these interstate relations based on friendship, cooperation and mutual respect.

- December 2015 saw a statement made by Viacheslav Chirikba, Abkhazian Foreign Minister, who declared that they in Sukhum “assume possible future recognition of the Abkhazian independence by Syria”. In one of your interviews you said there were negotiations being run with this country. Can we speak about possible fast recognition of South Ossetia independence by other states? What work is conducted in this direction?

- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs carries out a big work to establish diplomatic ties and to extend the list of friendly countries, looks for and develops the existing contacts, regularly organizes meetings at various levels and cooperates with many states including Syria.

Work on establishing contacts with possible allies from among foreign diplomats accredited in Russia including with the Ambassador of Syria in the Russian Federation is constantly conducted through the Embassy of the Republic of South Ossetia in the Russian Federation. We can't exclude recognition of our state independence by Syria; however, we can't expect that in short-term perspective. Currently Syria faces serious challenges, so we wish Syrian people speedy establishment of peace.

- An Expert Council affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia was established in 2015. Does this idea pay for itself? What can you say about positive results of the Expert Council’s work?

- The Expert Council affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was created as a platform for discussion on a wide range of international perspective. Without any doubt it is the mechanism for the widest exchange of opinions. For the time being we have hold only one meeting of the Council. The participants had an opportunity to exchange opinions and express their vision on the 2016 foreign policy agenda of the Republic of South Ossetia. The participants unanimously supported and welcomed the initiative of the Council creation and agreed on holding meetings every three months.

Many of the suggestions would be considered in work of the Ministry, in particular, suggestions made on the information work and work with our compatriots abroad.

Today we can be confident that the idea has paid for itself. Positive feedback was received not only from public authorities but also from public representatives.

- For a long period of time South Ossetia is achieving to sign within the frameworks of the Geneva discussions a document on non-use of force. However it hasn’t been signed yet. How does this fact threaten South Ossetia and why does Georgia evade from signing this important document? Can we expect such agreement to be signed in short term period?

- The format of the Geneva discussions is a really operating format aimed at ensuring security and stability in our region. All of us were witnesses of threat proceeding from our neighbors in August 2008. Even signing of the document on non-use of force with Georgia wouldn’t become a firm guarantee of peace; so certainly, evasion of signing doesn’t contribute to promote stability in the region. Moreover, Georgian representatives even being participants of the Geneva discussions evade stating commitment to the principles of peace and non-use of force. Therefore it’s useless expecting the agreement to be signed in short term; however, this is not the reason for putting a question on inefficiency of the format or scrapping it.

- Late October 2015 saw Dusan Ignjatovic, an independent international expert invited by the OSCE, joining the investigation of the case of South Ossetia missing citizens, who had been lost on territory of Georgia. What can you say about the results of the work he is conducting?

- In accordance with the agreements earlier reached within the Geneva discussions, international mediators invited Mr. Ignjatovic, an independent criminal expert, to investigate the case of the missing citizens of South Ossetia, who were lost in 2008. Attempts to clarify the destiny of the young men were also made in 2010. Then experts found out that for certain period after the abduction in 2008, the three citizens of the Republic, Alan Khugaev, Alan Khachirov and Soltan Pliyev, were in hands of Georgian law enforcement agencies, however the investigation failed to clear up their further destiny. It should be noted that the time frames for investigation on the notorious events of August 2008 established by the International Criminal Court don't cover the time period when these crimes were committed. During multiple visits to South Ossetia Mr.Ignjatovic met the officials engaged in the investigation of the case and relatives of the young citizens of the Republic. Mr. Ignjatovic is supposed to present the report containing conclusions and recommendations upon the work conducted at late February - early March.

- What you can tell about the main focus areas of work and new projects under implementation in 2016?

-The mission of the Ministry is defined by the Bylaw of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Decree “On Coordinative Role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia in pursuing a consistent foreign policy of the Republic of South Ossetia”. It’s worth emphasizing our task to participate in preparation of the additional agreements, stipulated by the Treaty on Alliance and Integration, as well as the necessity to prepare by-laws for full application of the law of the Republic of South Ossetia “On legal status of foreign citizens in the Republic of South Ossetia”. There is a big amount of work to do that would radically change the current residence rules for foreigners. Furthermore, the bill “On the Procedure of Leaving and Entering the Republic of South Ossetia” is currently under approval. To sum up, we can say that visa regime for foreigners is going to be established, and we are preparing to issue such documents as residence permit and temporary residence permit. Respectively, the load on Consular Department of the MFA and consular services of our foreign departments would increase.