Russia-South Ossetia friendship treaty comes into force

January 20th, 2009 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 20 (RIA Novosti) A friendship and cooperation agreement between Russia and the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia has come into force, the Russian foreign minister said Tuesday. Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and Tskhinvali would soon sign an array of agreements on cooperation in the military sphere, border protection and trade.

Russia recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another Georgian separatist republic, as independent states Aug 26 last year, two weeks after the end of a five-day military conflict which began when Georgian forces launched an attack on South Ossetia.

The friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia were signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last November.

Under the pacts, Russia has pledged to help them protect their borders, and the signatories have granted each other the right to set up military bases in their respective territories.

The treaties recognise dual citizenship, as the majority of people living in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are Russian passport holders. Russia has also agreed to unify its transportation, energy and communications infrastructure with them.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have so far only been recognised by Russia and Nicaragua. Belarus has said it may recognise the breakaway regions in the future, and Venezuela has voiced support for Russia’s move.

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