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Georgia's Reintegration Strategy

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, August 12
French newspaper Le Monde published a letter by Georgian State Minister Temur Iakobashvili, on August 11, in which he talks about outcomes of the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008 and the Authority’s new strategy concerning the Georgian occupied regions’ reintegration.

“The cease-fire mediated by the European Union, which halted the open conflict between Russia and Georgia, demanded that the Russians allow a secure and dignified return to their homes of all displaced persons and refugees. The cease-fire rejects the use of force as means of changing Europe's twenty-first century borders, demands that Russian forces withdraw to the positions they held before the war and respect the territorial sovereignty of Georgia,” the Minister said.

Based on the current situation, the cease-fire agreement is being ignored by Russians and the Georgian territories are still occupied. As Iakobashvili mentioned, despite this situation, Georgia has made significant advances in different areas and has a serious strategy on how to reintegrate the de-facto regions, “During the two years following the war, the Georgian government has made tremendous progress in rebuilding the country and the economy and in continuing the development of democratic institutions. We have also launched a bold plan to reintegrate South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Georgia’s democracy, even though Russia has decided to make permanent its illegal occupation of Georgian territory,” the Minister stated and underlined the main directions of the state strategy. “We will soon establish an agency of cooperation to promote business development in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the adjacent areas of Georgia. We will help to integrate international markets by establishing a quality control laboratory certifying the compliance of local products to international standards. We will also establish a fund to help private industry across the boundaries to support people who may have difficulties in attracting investment. Our program would also allow residents of both areas have access to Georgian universities and scholarship programs for study abroad,” Iakobashvili said.

Iakobashvili also emphasised Europe’s positive involvement in the events of August 2008 and its significant role in the process of the reintegration of Georgia's occupied regions.

Based on the present situation it is difficult to say how Europe and the European Union will manage to play significant role in this process as Tskhinvali has vehemently refused to cooperate with the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia. On August 10, Boris Chochiev, a special envoy for post-conflict resolution issues in breakaway South Ossetia said, “EU monitors' mission is to cover-up and hide from the international community all the crimes being committed by the Georgian law enforcement agencies. Violations and provocations carried out by Georgians on our territory are never confirmed by them.” He also demanded the replacement of the Head of the EUMM, Hansjorg Haber and said that the situation in the areas adjacent to the administrative border is normalized, however he gave no merit to EUMM, “The situation in the areas adjacent to the administrative boundary lines is largely stabilized, but this is not due to EUMM's efforts, but because the Georgian authorities and people have started to understand that South Ossetia is a separate state, although they will not admit it,” Chochiev said.

Analyst Nika Chitadze told The Messenger, “Adopting the document on state strategy concerning the occupied regions, is important. However it is more to show the international community, to confirm one more time that Georgia is ready to reintegrate its territories only by peaceful means. Based on the current situation, we cannot expect the practical realisation of this document as Russia with its puppet regimes will block it. In the long term it might work,” Chitadze said. He added, “The same can be said about the EU monitor mission, for we do not anticipate that they will be allowed to enter the occupied regions. However EU demands on the issue, Georgian’s support for it and the Russian-de facto regimes’ strong refusal once again shows who wants and who does not want peace.”