"Indeed, the situation in the republic is difficult at present. The gas pipeline from Russia is not finished yet. Tshinval (South Ossetia's capital) was freezing without gas supply throughout this winter. The large-scale rebuilding, awaited after the end of hostilities, has dragged out.
"The restoration process cannot be quick. It is aggravated by the transport logistics, which is extremely difficult in winter. The situation is worsened by the lack of gas supply, and, consequently heat. On top of that, there is the necessarily to prepare design and estimate documents, and a complex pattern of cooperation with Russian ministries and departments.
"A new mechanism of interaction is being created at present, which gives us hope. I'm saying it openly: yes, we have lost time, but we haven't lost the Russian money," Kokoity underlined.
Answering the newspaper's question how the funds on rebuilding South Ossetia are spent at present, Kokoity said large-scale construction in the republic would begin in the spring.
It will take five to ten years to build a town for 70,000 residents from scratch. Tskhinval's infrastructure has been fully demolished.
"After the strikes by Grad salvo systems we were unable to quickly rebuild in the winter 606 fully destroyed houses in Tskhinval, and more than 1,000 houses in rural areas.
"Another 3,000 residential buildings were partially destroyed.
"We'll take under state control the logging of beeches, oaks, and chestnuts. Agriculture and wine-making have good prospects, while mountain skiing and environmental tourism might prove to in demand in a more distant future.
"Of course, we see Russian businesses as main partners, although our economy will be open to all. South Ossetia has a sufficient basis of state and economic potential to become an independent and successful state," he said.
"A gas pipeline is groundwork for our economy. It will link our countries more closely than the Trasncaucasian Highway. I met with Alexei Miller at Gazprom the other day, and he told me that Gazprom would keep its promise regardless, and that the gas pipeline would be commissioned in the third quarter of this year," Kokoity said.