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First restriction then legislation

By Sopo Datishvili
Friday, October 3
On October 2, the Parliament of Georgia passed a resolution about extending the State of Emergency around the area of the conflict zone. It will now last till October 17. Parliament says that if Russia removes its troops before then, there will be no need to prolong it. The MPs took this decision unanimously.

On September 3 the Georgian Parliament abolished the State of War in the places occupied by the Russians and downgraded it to a State of Emergency to last until October 3. After the vote the Speaker of Parliament David Bakradze said he hoped that the extended provisions would only be in force for a short time.

Vice Speaker of Parliament Levan Vephkvadze, a Christian Democrat, explained that the State of Emergency only applies to the so-called buffer zones. “The international community has demanded that Russia take its troops out of Georgian territory by October 10. My personal view is quite skeptical towards this issue,” Vephkhvadze added.

The draft law “On Occupied Territories” will be presented in Parliament in the next week for a second reading and vote. If passed, it will ensure that the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is regulated by law and not merely resolutions. Under the terms of the draft, free movement in South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be restricted. Foreigners will be able to enter these territories only via Georgia. Private property rights will have no legal force there and real estate investments will be prohibited. Last time MPs unanimously approved the draft, so there is a good chance that the second reading will also be unanimously approved.

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks that adopting the State of Emergency will enable Parliament to pass the next and more important law about the occupied territories. He sees only a theoretical possibility that Russia might take its troops out of Georgia in the near future, but thinks the law “On Occupied Territories” will resolve a number of issues.