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Tbilisi’s strategy is no isolation

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Monday, 01 February 2010

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‘Engagement Through Cooperation’
Armed with the State Strategy on Occupied Territories, Tbilisi is going to restore the trust of the population in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region.

The document will travel beyond Georgia’s borders and will be presented to international organizations.

The government is already underway composing an action plan for a strategy that will establish concrete measures and procedures. The action plan is expected to be ready at the beginning of summer. In addition, the legislative amendments to achieve the goals envisaged in the strategy will be elaborated.

Through Peace Not War

Tbilisi’s vision concerning its breakaway regions revolves around joining Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region population in its path striving for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Tbilisi plans to extend the benefits of Georgia’s reforms to the occupied regions and its closer integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures and institutions. According to the document, Georgia opposes the isolation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region and recognizes the negative repercussions of isolating the populations living there.

“The subtitle of the State Strategy on Occupied Territories—‘Engagement Through Cooperation’—is its essence,” the strategy document reads. “The Strategy seeks to counter the isolation and division resulting from occupation by creating frameworks, incentives and mechanisms for engagement.”

According to the document, the Strategy is part of “Georgia’s overarching determination” to achieve de-occupation, reverse the annexation of its territories and reintegrate these territories and their population.

The State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili stressed that there is no military solution for the conflicts, at the briefing. The use of military would mean another Russian-Georgian war and Georgia does not want and is not preparing for war, Yakobashvili said.

“Georgia seeks to achieve these objectives only through peaceful means and diplomatic efforts, and rejects the pursuit of a military solution,” according to the strategy document.

Yakobashvili stressed that the main elements of the strategy is rejection of isolation.

“The population living there [in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region] are Georgia’s population so we will not allow the isolation of these regions especially from the rest of Georgia,” he said. “We will not allow the fate of these people to be dependant only on Russian occupants’ and the occupant state’s will and that is why we are going to implement active policy in order that the population living there has a possibility to receive normal education, healthcare and be involved in economic, cultural and all other projects available in the rest of Georgia.”

According to the strategy document, Georgia intends to promote interaction among the divided population and to ensure that all residents of both regions enjoy the rights and privileges similar to Georgia’s citizens. The document suggests pro-active policies to achieve these goals.

Furthermore, economic interaction should be promoted and both regions need to be involved in Georgia’s international economic relations, according to the strategy document.

Freedom of movement between the breakaway regions and Georgia should be promoted through encouragement inter-community projects based on common interests. The roads connecting Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region with the rest of Georgia should be rehabilitated and a regular bus connection established.

The Strategy also envisages various initiatives in education such as establishing framework and procedures to enable students from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region to study within Georgia or abroad as well as encouraging joint academic-training programs for the war-affected populations and promoting joint research activities.

Amongst others policies offered in the document is the free flow of information across the dividing lines to strengthen understanding and cooperation.

The legal mechanisms to ensure the achievement of economic and educational goals should be in agreement with the basic principles of the Strategy of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, non-recognition and de-occupation, the strategy document states.

“The government of Georgia believes that a policy of engagement that restores confidence and trust between the war-affected communities of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, currently separated by dividing lines, will significantly contribute to the final settlement of the conflicts,” according to the strategy document.

“While recognizing political differences that exist within segments of the populations of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, the government of Georgia is confident that these differences can be resolved through negotiations, engagement, and cooperation—in conjunction with the establishment and internationalization of a peace process aimed at the full de-occupation of Georgia’s territory,” the document stated.

Analyst and expert on conflict issues Paata Zakareishvili said that although it is hard to predict the final outcome, it is important that Georgia has this document.

“The fact that the strategy exists and the state finally after 18 years elaborated a vision of how it is going to work with conflict zones is good,” Zakareishvili said. “It is also good that the precedent was created and discussions about the strategy with international and local experts were ongoing.”

Story by Nina Akhmeteli
http://www.georgiatoday.ge/article_details.php?id=7654

 
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