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Government works on an alternative strategy on conflict resolution

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, March 21
Paata Zakareishvili, the State Minister for Reintegration, answered questions about the state strategy on conflict resolution with Russia and the Geneva Talks, as well as the possibility to open the railway connecting Armenia with Russia while meeting with the Parliamentary Commission on Restoration of Territorial Integrity and the Parliamentary Committee on Diaspora and Caucasian Issues on Wednesday.

The State Minister said that the Abkhaz and Ossetian sides are trying to alter the format of the Geneva Talks and it is important to maintain the red line in Georgia-Russia relations within the format of the talks. Zakaireishvili admits that the results of the Geneva talks are not satisfactory for either of the sides. The Georgian side does not see any necessity for it, but some future changes in the format of the talks are not excluded.

The state strategy on conflict regions elaborated by the previous government is acceptable for Zakareishvili and he is going to follow it. However, he said an alternative strategy is being elaborated. “As soon as the existing strategy expires, the new state strategy will be presented,” Zakareishvili said.

According to Zakareishvili the Georgian side should make sure Abkhazians and Ossetians do not have any arguments against Georgia. The state minister says if there are no critical statements from the conflict regions, Russia will lose all of its arguments supporting the existence of Abkhazia and Ossesia as independent states.

Zakareishvili also spoke about the possible construction of the railway which should pass through Abkhazia and connect Armenia with Russia. Representatives of the parliamentary minority fear that there is a danger of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia may turn into a military bridge-head if it agrees to open the railway to Russia.

Zakareishvili said the issue of constructing a railway is not being seriously discussed at the moment. “Even if the whole world requests to open the railway, it will be impossible unless Georgia and Russia make an agreement on the issues” the state minister said.

“We had a very constructive meeting” Zakareishvili said. He wishes to continue similar meetings in future, but behind closed doors. The minister explained that there are several delicate issues regarding the conflict regions he cannot always reveal to journalists. He says there are no secrets but some information may leak and the Russians will be able to take preventive measures.

Member of the parliamentary minority United National Movement (UNM), Zurab Japaridze, said he welcomes the fact that the minister participated in the work of the commissions and answered several questions MPs had. Japaridze said there are still are many issues the minority does not agree about with the government. “There still are issues we have totally different view on, as recognizing Abkhazian and Ossetian de-facto republics as the sides of the conflict.” MP said after the meeting.

Another representative of the minority Shota Malashkhia expressed his dissatisfaction with the meeting. “We have not received answers to the questions,” he said, accusing Zakhareishvili in answering the questions not as a minster, but as the representative of an NGO would. According to Malashkhia, he could see neither a strategy nor actual steps the minister is going to take.