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Nine years after Russian-Georgian war

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Tuesday, August 8
Georgian political parties argue whether Georgia faces ‘creeping occupation’ or ‘borderization’ process

Nine years has passed after 8 August 2008, the day when the Russian-Georgian war started. The issue of barbed-wire, which has become the symbol of the Russian aggression and occupation still is in the center of political attention. This time it was used as a weapon of internal political confrontation.

On August 3, Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, David Sergeenko, made a statement regarding Russia's policy about the occupied territories of Georgia: "Unfortunately very often, the term ‘creeping occupation’ is used for describing Russia's actions, which is not correct in its basis. This is not a creeping and gradual occupation. This is the process of marking already occupied territory which unfortunately was legitimated in 2008 by the previous government," he said.

Sergeenko’s statement had a huge response from the oppositional parties. Leader of the opposition party “European Democrats,” Paata Davitaia, who headed the Temporary Parliamentary Investigation Commission of the August war, announced that after 2012 as a result of creeping occupation the country has lost more territory than during the war in 2008.

Sergeenko’s statement followed the statement of State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, on de facto South Ossetian officials’ announcement on building a fire protection zone in the Georgian village Artsevi.

Members of the ruling team suggested that the term ‘creeping occupation’ should be replaced with the term ‘borderization’ process.

Eka Beselia from the ruling party noted that the so-called ‘borderization’ was only carried out in those territories that were occupied before 2008.

“The process of borderization is implemented in those territories which were delivered to Russia by the hand of the National Movement party. Now, we are making an immediate response on every provocative step,” said Beselia.

Another member of the ruling team, Irakli Mezurnishvili, also said he was against the term ‘creeping occupation.’

“The term ‘creeping occupation’ is made-up by former ruling party this is how they are trying to blame in this processes the ‘Georgian Dream,’” Mezurnishvili said. According to him, Russia with the process of ‘borderization’ is still trying to legalize the territories occupied during the governance of National Movement.

The topic of occupation is very important for Georgian society and has a big political impact. It may have an influence on the rating of the ruling political party, especially, if it is regarded as an ongoing process. However, the announcements of the ruling party that this is not an ongoing occupation, but an attempt to mark already occupied territories may pose a threat for the country’s foreign policy in gaining international support. It might divert the attention of international organizations and partners from the problem.

In May 2017, Donald Trump signed a legislative act about recognizing Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as integral parts of Georgia occupied by Russia, according to one of the amendments of this act, commissions of the US Secretary of State report the occupational actions of Russia to the Congress within 90 days. Considering this fact, it is very important to keep international partners informed about occupation activities. In case Georgia’s ruling party supports the idea that an ongoing activity is the marking process of already occupied territory, a disturbing question arises: What if Russia decides to spread the occupation line by 400 meters to the south, including the part of Georgia's central highway, which connects western and eastern parts of the country, under the label of ‘borderization’?