President of Georgia: Proposed name change for breakaway Tskhinvali is annexation attempt

  • Tskhinvali seen from the village of Ergneti, Georgia. Photo by Nino Alavidze/, 7 Feb 2017 - 15:12, Tbilisi,Georgia

Any attempt to rename an occupied region of Georgia without the consent of the central government will be an affront on Georgia’s sovereignty and integrity, says President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

He believes that such a move will be "yet another attempt to annex Georgia’s occupied regions”.

Margvelashvili’s statement comes after the de facto leader of Georgia’s breakaway Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) Leonid Tibilov once again voiced his proposal to rename the historic Georgian province.

Earlier today Tibilov said that the breakaway region will hold a plebiscite on this matter on the same day that it will hold its so-called presidential election on April 9.

Tibilov’s initiative is to change Tskhinvali region’s name to ‘the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania”. The second part of the name would sound just like North Ossetia-Alania, which is a federal subject of Russia.

The de facto leader said that this move would allow for ‘the republic to return its historic name’, while he suggested maintaining the current name as well because it ‘is known throughout the world”.

President Margvelashvili in response issued a statement of his own.

"A plebiscite, election or any other event that pretends to express the will of the population cannot take place on a territory that is occupied by a foreign state; from where a major part of local residents are displaced; where an ethnic cleansing has taken place and where the only force controlling the area today is the Russian Federation”.

Margvelashvili said a name change for the Tskhinvali region will be a step towards annexation.

"We’re once again calling on the Russian Federation to take the proper steps to de-occupy Georgia’s territories and fulfil its international obligations”, Margvelashvili said.

He also urged the international community to stand up against the violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as against any attempt to legitimate the results of these so-called elections and plebiscite.

Tibilov first voiced his initiative to rename Tskhinvali region in December of 2015. At that time he said, "there is the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and I propose to call our [region] the Republic of South Ossetia-Alania. The whole world should know that there is a problem of a divided nation”.

He also expressed his confidence that in the future the two would unite under one name – Ossetia-Alania within the confines of the Russian Federation.