Argument: Ossetians have a distinct ethnic identity and history

Issue Report: South Ossetia independence


“Independence of the Republic of South Ossetia”. Speech at the VI congress of the Ossetian people. 18 Mar. 2008 – The ethno-cultural unity of the territory occupied by modern Ossetia, is well traced since the epoch of Late bronze and Early iron age – from the end of the II and the beginning of the I millennium BC. At least since the times of the Koban culture and Scythian campaigns to Asia on the slopes of these mountains people have been speaking one and the same language. People, known as “Ossetians” since the middle of the 17th century – are the last fragments of numerous ancient tribes, whom Herodotus, Strabo and Ptolemy called Scythians and Sarmatians. In the Western Medieval chronicles Ossetians’ ancestors are more often mentioned under the name of Alans and also As, Jas, and in the East they were also named Asu. The Medieval Alanian state was destroyed during the 13-14th centuries in bloody wars against Mongols and Tamerlan. Losing the flat lands, the surviving groups of Alans concentrated in the southeastern outskirts of the ruined country – in the heart of the Caucasus, in the remote canyons and mountain valleys on both slopes of the Main ridge. Three hundred years – since the 15th c. till the 17th c. – they lived in closed communities, defending their gorges from enemies. For three hundred years a severe struggle for survival was the essence of their existence – people had to overcome the consequences of demographic catastrophe. Highland Alania of that time was a free confederation of self-governing land-areas (Osset. «komæbstæ») – in Russian called obshestva. The Georgian variant of the name Alania – “Ossetia” – was fixed in the Russian language during the epoch of renewal of Russian-Alanian relations, after a three-century break, instead of the forgotten Slavic name for Alans – «Jasy».