International and local allegations about creeping occupation of Georgia
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Thursday, July 20Creeping occupation is one of the biggest problems of Georgia.The threat is real, because this is an ongoing process and from time to time more territories are being occupied. Issues of creeping occupation are widely discussed in the political and public sectors.
From 4th July of 2017 till today, a small Georgian village called Bershueti, is in the centre of attention of the Georgian and international society. Bershueti belongs to many other Georgian villages that turned out to be under threat of creeping occupation. After shifting the “border sign” through the village Bershueti, the Russian barbed wire is critically, only 400 meters, close to the Georgian central highway that connects eastern and western parts of the country.
There are different thoughts and opinions about the state strategy of solving this problem, but the biggest part of the society doesn't believe that the northern neighbour can be stopped only by diplomatic negotiations. They think that the pressure from international organizations could be the only solution of the creeping occupation problem and because of that, it is important to provide updated information about ongoing processes to international partners. The level of civic engagement is high; certain groups of the population think that citizens shall influence the process by actively demonstrating their protest against the Russian policy. Because of that, some groups of volunteers have even instituted civic patrol on the territory of Bershueti. "It's time to leave social networks and express loudly our protest against the occupation with these actions we want to help our government to send right messages to its partners." - says David Katsarava, one of the authors of civic patrol idea.
"Depending on the urgency of the issue, it is constantly the subject of internal political confrontations. The opposition accuses the government of inactivity - "In five years period, the Government has failed to make effective and understandable strategy against occupation and annexation," – announces the opposition party "Girchi" its position in an official letter. On the other hand, current government accuses the previous government of leaving hard political inheritance. "135 villages were lost not by creeping occupation, as some opposition parties want to demonstrate, but by occupation and this occupation is a heavy legacy that our political party has received when we came to power," says prime minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Despite contradictions, the government and most of the opposition forces agree that in order to make pressure on Russia Georgia should deepen cooperation with international organizations. However, there is one opposition party in Georgian Parliament that shares a contradictory view, the "Alliance of Patriots of Georgia" consider that any disagreement between two countries is possible to be solved by negotiations. For this purpose, they visited Russia and held meetings with local politicians.
The position of international organizations is unchanged and they are critically assessing Russia's actions. "The Assembly constantly condemns Russia's occupation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, every day Russia seeks to capture more and more land of Georgia and strengthen its influence here"- says Paolo Ali, the President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Despite accusations, the Russian side does not recognize the allegations and as it appears in the official statement made by the Foreign Ministry of Russia, they say that this allegation is just an informative provocation.