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The Occupation of Georgia still under way

By Tina Tskhovrebadze
Friday, July 14
The so-called “creeping occupation” remains as one of the main challenges of the country as Georgia is stably losing her land. Over the past years, several citizens of Georgia were kidnapped. And, the security of the people residing in or near the occupied areas has been under threat.

Participating in peaceful negotiations and international cooperation are the long-term policies of the country. Among them are meetings in Ergneti in the framework of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (created in February 2009 as a result of the Geneva Discussions after the 2008 conflict in Georgia). The last meeting in Ergneti took place on July 11, 2017. Georgian part stresses and it is against the “creeping occupation.” This summer the occupation line was moved inside the Georgian village Bershueti closer to the country’s central highway. Over recent years there have been several cases of capturing and transporting Georgian citizens to Tskhinvali isolator.

Before the start of Ergneti meeting this week, Murad Jioev, representative of the de facto South Ossetian side asked Gunther Bachler, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus to raise an initiative regarding banning the Georgian citizens to come closer 200 meters to the so-called borders. Jioev stated that fixing the border lines will avoid extra problems. Deputy director of Analytical Department of the State Security Service, Kakhaber Kemoklidze explains that the de-facto government of Tskhinvali region suggested only one possibility - to define borders – and this is a “trap” for the Georgian government. ,,Our vision at today’s meeting is very clear as in previous times – we must work with our opponents and representatives of international organizations to discuss the issue from a pragmatic and practical angle,” stated Kemoklidze.

Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, thinks that this is not only “creeping occupation,” but an extremely open and dynamic process of occupation, which has been carrying on after 2008 war. “From time to time, we always face such kind of problems, when different kinds of barricades are raised.” She also declares that putting any kind of border signs on the territory of Georgia is not acceptable for the Georgian government.

On July 10, 2017 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a meeting with Dimitri Medoev, head of the department of international affairs of de facto South Ossetia. Lavrov stated that “as long as non-stable situation still exists in the Caucasus, among them are Georgia’s provocative attempts to make her positions firm within the NATO and with the help of the alliance in the region as well, Russia seeks for coordinated actions, of course with her Ossetian and Abkhazian partners. We must work together with the aim to neutralize threats regarding peace and security in the Caucasus in the future too.”

The ongoing process of occupation is one of the top issues for Georgian citizens who are trying to express their concern over the consistent occupation in a peaceful manner. Last week, a group of students protested the further “creeping” annexation of Georgia’s territory near the newly installed border signs, which left some Georgian citizens without their agricultural land and gardens.