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Thursday, November 23
EU, Georgia Adopt Revised Association Agenda

(TBILSI) -- The European Union and Georgia adopted a revised EU-Georgia Association Agenda for 2017-2020, the EU Delegation to Georgia said Tuesday.

The new agenda builds on a previous document for 2014-2016, and is designed to facilitate the implementation of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

“The revised Association Agenda maintains a practical framework for achieving political association and economic integration between the EU and Georgia and sets out an ambitious program of reforms for the immediate years to come,”the EU Delegation said in its official statement.

“It addresses a wide range of issues such as strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, respect for human rights; cooperation on foreign and security policy as well as peaceful conflict resolution. It also incorporates economic and trade elements, including a dedicated DCFTA chapter and cooperation in a number of sectors such as energy, transport, employment and social policy,” reads the statement.

“The EU will continue supporting Georgia in a number of ways as it implements the Association Agenda. These include financial support, technical expertise and advice, information sharing and capacity building,” the EU Delegation also noted.

Georgia and the European Union adopted the previous Association Agenda on the eve of signing of the Association Agreement in Brussels on June 27, 2014. (

Faced with new bureaucratic hurdles, Georgians in Abkhazia ponder leaving

(GALI, Abkhazia) -- Secessionist authorities in Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia are developing new ways to discriminate against the ethnic Georgian population in the region’s southeast Gali district.

“We are absolutely deprived of any civil rights. We feel like we are being forced out of our homes,” a young man living in the village of Nabakevi told DFWatch.

Leaving their homes would mean moving from the Russian-backed region to Georgia proper.But the rebel government is unlikely to see any gains from displacing the ethnic Georgians, as the trade going on in Gali, for the most part in hazel nuts, is a significant source of income for the occupied region.

The Abkhaz government has stripped Gali resident of most of their rights, including the ability to educate their children in Georgian. The policy is the continuation of its forced discrimination initiatives that began after the Georgian-Abkhaz War in the early 1990s.

The latest addition to this ongoing policy is a new document about permanent residence.

Since 2008, the rebel authorities in the regional capital Sukhumi began issuing Abkhaz passports. This practice was soon discontinued, and nowadays local ethnic Georgians must have five different kinds of documents to either live in or travel to the breakaway region. These include a visa, an old Soviet passport, an Abkhazian passport, a special document dubbed “Form #9”, and residence permit. However, getting all of these documents is problematic and requires money, and for Georgians living in Gali crossing the administrative border is becoming more complicated day by day.

The “visas” are available for everyone who possesses a foreign passport and who pays the required fees.

“We use visas every summer, but they are not easy to get. It takes 10 business days to get a visa, but this term is often extended for the whole month, sometimes for two months, but during this period the summer is over, and there are many cases when the money is paid and the guest is not able to visit us, because the summer is over. Often it also happens that a visa isn’t issued or a person with a visa is denied entry by the Russian border guards. If you give a little money (as a bribe), you can get it earlier,” a 50-year-old teacher from Gali told DFWatch.

Those who possess Abkhaz or Soviet passports can cross the border freely, but cannot be sure about how long their documents will be valid. However, only a few Gali residents have Soviet or Abkhaz passports. It is currently almost impossible for Georgians in Gali to obtain the latter.

“I had to visit the Gali administration three times to obtain an Abkhazian passport. I had collected all the necessary documents and paid the appropriate amount of money,” a university student from the village of Tagiloni told DFWatch. However, a problem arose when a clerk who was ethnic Abkhaz noticed what she perceived as a technical flaw in the document.

“An employee in the administration was irritated and she threw the document literally in my face,” she said.

After that, I left and went home, but my mother told me that without this document I’d be denied entry to Gali,” she continued. “I now have to use visas.”

The vaguely-named Form #9, like a visa, is issued for various periods and the price depends on the term of validity.

A Gali resident told us most of the population are now using this document because it takes the least time to obtain. Hence, those who do not have any other documents have to pay 1,000 rubles ($17.05) per month.

Nowadays the document is usually issued for a month, while a couple years ago it had up to three years period of validity. The reason for this change is the regime’s desire to get more money, locals say.

They believe the separatist authorities are trying to impose as many bureaucratic hurdles on the Georgians in Gali as possible but, at the same time, to such an extent that it doesn’t cause them to flee to Georgia proper. (DF watch)