Pacific island of Nauru recognises Georgia's breakaway S. Ossetia
The tiny Pacific island of Nauru on Wednesday recognised the Russian-backed rebel region of South Ossetia as independent, separatist rebels said.
The tiny Pacific island of Nauru on Wednesday recognised the Russian-backed rebel region of South Ossetia as independent, separatist rebels said, a day after Nauru recognised Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia.
Russia has been trying to secure international recognition for rebel regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in wars in the early 1990s.
Most of the world regards both as parts of Georgia though Moscow recognised them as independent countries after its brief five-day war last year with Tbilisi over South Ossetia.
Venezuela and Nicaragua followed suit, making Nauru the fourth country to recognise them as independent.
On Monday Russia's Kommersant newspaper cited a source that said Nauru had asked Russia for $50 million for projects on the island in connection with the Abkhazia recognition. Georgia said Russia had "bought recognition"
On Wednesday South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity thanked Nauru, saying "our two small states share the common goal of freedom and prosperity," the region's information ministry said on its site www.cominf.org on Wednesday.
"Establishing diplomatic ties with Nauru means the de facto recognition of our state by yet another United Nations member ... and becomes an additional obstacle for a repeat of Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia's people," Kokoity said.
Nauruan Foreign Minister Kieren Keke, who inked in Moscow a statement on establishing diplomatic relations with South Ossetia, was not available for comments, having left the Russian capital after the signing, a mission worker told Reuters.
Russia hailed Nauru's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, saying the step would "consolidate stability in the Caucasus region".
Nauru, an island of 21 square km (5,190 acres), gained independence in 1968 and joined the United Nations in 1999 as the world's smallest independent republic, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia, who have run their own affairs since breaking away from Georgia, depend on Russia for defence. Russia has issued Russian passports for most of their residents, Russian is the lingua franca and the rouble their currency.
Reuters Last Mod: 16 Aralık 2009, 21:17