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Georgia: Russian Discussion of S Ossetia Referendum Opposed
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A move by Russia to recognize the results of an independence referendum by Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region would be a big mistake, Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said in Tbilisi on Wednesday.

"I call on the Russian side to give a serious thought to what it is doing or wants to do. I do not want to overtake events, but I want to say in advance that the discussion of this issue and making a decision will be a serious mistake by Russia," Bezhuashvili was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

South Ossetia held referendum on independence on Nov. 13. The results showed most voters backed independence.

The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, is expected to pass two statements on the independence of self-claimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Wednesday.

Georgian Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze said on Tuesday that "by recognizing the referendum on so-called independence of South Ossetia the State Duma will put itself in an uncomfortable position."

Givi Targamadze, chief of the Georgian parliament's committee on defense and security, said that the State Duma's recognition of the referendum result "will be void of any force."

South Ossetia broke away from Georgia's central government in the early 1990s. The region had previously held referenda on independence in 1992 and 2001, but their results were not recognized by the international community.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring South Ossetia and another breakaway region Abkhazia back under Tbilisi's control. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has said the presidential election and the referendum in South Ossetia were unlawful.

The European Union (EU) said on Nov. 13 that it did not recognize the outcome of the referendum in South Ossetia.

The EU's current presidency, Finland, issued a statement saying the referendum "contradicts Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2006)

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