Georgia presents its strategy to OSCE
By Salome Modebadze
Monday, March 22
Temur Iakobashvili, Vice Prime-Minister and State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia, presented the Government's Strategy on the Occupied Territories: Engagement Through Cooperation at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna on March 19. Iakobashvili said that the document would be introduced to a variety of international organisations, including the Council of Europe, the European Union and NATO. It expresses the Government's vision of how to reunite the communities of Georgia affected by the August War 2008 and outlines the future direction of the country.
“This document, prepared by a consensus of people from civil society, political structures and the non-governmental organisations, has enjoyed wide support from our international partners. The strategy shouldn’t be perceived as the Government’s reintegration or de-occupation strategy but something aimed at improving engagement and cooperation between the communities living in the currently occupied territories. This is a roadmap for creating the proper environment for the voluntary reunification and peaceful de-occupation of the region. This long-term goal will be achieved through the trust and confidence that is to be built between the war-torn families,” Iakobashvili said.
The Minister explained that the strategy can only be implemented if the international community's non-recognition policy and active engagement are adhered to as fundamental principles. He said that the international community’s condemnation of Russia’s recognition and the so-called independence of the occupied territories was an entirely adequate reaction but the same non-recognition policy should be adopted everywhere. “We shouldn’t forget about all those people living in our occupied territories. The Government of Georgia has chosen the path of de-isolation and engagement, not the way of ostracism and exclusion, which demonstrates Georgia’s strong commitment to resolving the conflict with Russia through peaceful diplomatic means. But Russia has to be constantly reminded of its obligations under international law in order to prevent violations of human rights on the occupied territories,” Iakobashvili stated.
The Minister said that three other important issues, security, status and IDPs, hadn't been mentioned in the strategy. “All these are either medium or long-term issues while improving the relations between the communities separated by war is a humanitarian issue and we can’t wait until all the other differences are discussed. We have to act now in order to depoliticise this process,” said the Minister, adding that Georgia will cooperate with its partner countries in order to implement all its objectives.
In parallel to the strategy the Government of Georgia has begun working on an action plan for improving people’s lives which will be developed through a constructive process in order to ensure the fulfillment of all the steps outlined in it. Iakobashvili said that he will organise a conference to adopt the action plan and pledged financial and institutional support for its implementation along with Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, who expressed his interest in hosting this event in the near future.
Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger that the strategy seems quite interesting but there are errors even in the title. “It is really unfortunate that the Government of Georgia is still oriented on the occupied territories as such rather than the people in them, as is so obvious from the title of the strategy. The international community definitely disapproves of the violations of rights mentioned in the document but thinks that such a document should have been prepared years ago. Our Government has the wrong recipe for re-establishing peace and I’m afraid that nothing can be achieved if they don’t change their approach,” said Tsiskarishvili.