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Plans to resettle Ossetians - again

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 1
De facto South Ossetia’s authorities plan to settle 80 Ossetian families in Akhalgori region, according to a statement made by de facto South Ossetia’s State Commission Chairperson, Eleonora Bedoeva, on August 30.

Akhalgori region, which is settled with Georgian citizens, was occupied by Russian military forces during the August war in 2008. Bedoeva now states, “Those 80 Ossetian families, who were evicted from Leningori (the former name of Akhalgori) in the nineties to Vladikavkaz are to be returned to Akhalgori. Representatives of the South Ossetian authorities will shortly meet with those people presently living in Vladikavkaz and make a decision on the issue. Now, Leningori is controlled by South Ossetia and those people are waiting to return to their homes.”

According to the Georgians who were forced from Akhalgori, Ossetians living in Vladikavkaz do not intend returning to Akhalgori, as they now have houses and jobs there and their children are being brought up in Vladikavkaz. If they wanted to come back to the region they would have already returned; before 2008 there has been nothing to prevent them from doing so.

As the authority representative, Pavle Kublashvili MP, told The Messenger, “Our main lever is the international support concerning our occupied regions and those significant documents which have been adopted in favour of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Unfortunately, with the present situation we cannot take control of the de facto regions, however this is temporary and very soon situation will be changed.” He continued, “Firstly, I do not suppose that those people are expressing a desire to coming back to Akhalgori, as it has became very obvious to everyone that the Russians and the de facto authorities are not concerned with people’s welfare. People living in the separatist regions have seen that the funds are all going into the pockets of Russian and de facto officials. No advancement of the regions is possible while the Russians and separatists control the regions. Of course, those areas could be some of the most developed and advanced, however only if they are part of Georgia, only after their release from occupation.”

Malkhaz Chemia, a specialist on conflict issues told The Messenger that settling Ossetians in Akhalgori will create serious problem for Georgia in the future, “In the nineties when Ossetians were evicted from Akhalgori and sent to Vladikavkaz appropriate living conditions were created for them there; that is they were provided with apartments and some other means to live and they were satisfied. I myself was a member of the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Regulatory Committee and I have information about this. Those, if any, who decide to return to Akhalgori to settle will be the poor families who will not hesitate to take Georgians' apartments. And if Georgians were to return to Akhalgori again, the Ossetians will not leave those homes and this would inevitably create conflict there,” Chemia said. He gave examples. “I just draw some parallels with the past. During the Chechnya conflict Ingush people were evicted from certain areas by the Chechens and their homes given to Ossetians and Georgians. When the situation was regulated and the Ingushetians were given permission to return to their own homes, the Georgians living in their houses emptied them and even left their own cattle for them, so the Ingush families would not die from starvation. As for the Ossetians however, they refused to leave the Ingush houses and this created serious conflict between the Ossetians and Ingushetians. As I have often mentioned, Georgia is one link in the international chain, when some day the international community makes Russia concede, it will have to leave those occupied regions, however it will leave behind many problems, especially the people who will not want to leave the apartments that belong to Georgians,” Chemia stated.