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Tensions rise in Georgia's separatist enclave


AFP Tbilisi
Georgia warned Friday of a risk of "serious confrontation"with South Ossetia after the breakaway region demanded the Georgian authorities remove a checkpoint on its boundary.
Georgian foreign ministry said it observed "mobilisation of military equipment and personnel" near the village of Chorchana, where Georgian authorities had set up the checkpoint.
The situation risked "escalating into a serious confrontation," Georgia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Mari Narchemashvili told AFP on Friday.
At a talks mediated by the EU and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday, South Ossetia had demanded that Georgian police dismantle the checkpoint before 0300 GMT on Friday, according to one of the delegates at the meeting.
"If this condition is not met, the government (of South Ossetia) will take all legal measures to ensure security of the South Ossetian people and protect the state border," a South Ossetian delegate, Yegor Kochiev, said in televised remarks.
Kochiev is a delegate to the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism, which meets to discuss the security situation under EU and OSCE mediation.
On Thursday, the OSCE had said in a statement that "recent developments along the administrative boundary line had negatively impacted the overall security situation."

There had been "intense exchanges" at the meeting about the border post and the talks had been "disrupted," it said.
South Ossetia officials say the checkpoint is on the breakaway region's territory close to Uista village, known as Tsnelisi in Georgia.
The boundary line has become contentious in the wake of spiralling tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow over Georgia's aspirations to join EU and NATO.
Those tensions escalated in August 2008 into a brief war over South Ossetia and another breakaway region Abkhazia.
The war -- which claimed the lives of hundreds of people from both sides -- erupted after Tbilisi launched a large-scale military offensive against Moscow-backed South Ossetian forces which had been shelling Georgian villages.
Russian forces bombed targets across the country and occupied swathes of its territory before withdrawing to within the two separatist enclaves.
After the conflict, which ended thanks a French-mediated ceasefire, the Kremlin recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and stationed permanent military bases there.
Tbilisi and its Western partners have condemned the move as an "illegal occupation" of the 20 percent of Georgia's sovereign territory.

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First Published: Aug 30 2019 | 7:20 PM IST

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