Black Sea Peacebuilding Network
Report on the seventh meeting of the representatives of non-governmental organizations and independent experts
On May 13 2010, the seventh meeting of the experts involved in Georgian component of “The Black Sea Peacebuilding Network” project was held in Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS).
The project is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and in cooperation with the Crisis Management Initiative.
At the meeting Mr. Temur Iakobashvili, the State Minister for Reintegration Issues presented to the Experts Working Group the Action Plan for Engagement, which is the plan of practical implementation of the State Strategy towards the Occupied Territories. David Rakviashvili, the Deputy Minister of Reintegration and the other representatives of the State Minister’s Office for Reintegration.
Action Plan for Engagement
Minister of Reintegration stated that the Action Plan required specific proposals to demonstrate that Georgia has serious intention to implement the Plan. Approaches formulated in the strategy are human oriented (they are human-centric); hence the Action Plan aims to create the environment supporting increasing interaction, collaboration, partnership between the population separated by the dividing lines and restoration of confidence between the communities living in Georgia.
The most important issues of the Action Plan are provided in the first unit, which offers seven mechanisms intended for realization of the issues,
One of the most important issues – the civil documents. As the Minister has mentioned in his speech, the ideal solution would be to issue Georgian passports to all people living in Abkhazia and South Osetia; alternatively, the fact that they have Russian passports may be accepted. By the reason of impossibility of the former and unacceptability of the latter the idea of introduction of the so called Neutral Identification Card and Travel Document appeared: the identity card (or so called non-citizen passport).
The mentioned identity card will be available at Gori and Zugdidi. A person equipped with such card will have all rights and benefits of the Georgian citizens and involvement in all state programs among them. He/she will have right to make business in Georgia and on the basis of this document the so called leissez-passer will be available as well. The documents will be issued to any persons born in Abkhazia and South Osetia.
It should be noted that currently Russian passports are not given in Abkhazia any more and entrance into Russia with the Abkhazian documents is limited as well.
The second unit of the Action Plan for Engagement implies creation of the economic zones in immediate vicinity of the occupation, lines of demarcation. These zones will be multi-functional: fair, commodity entities, mechanisms of economic interaction, joint ventures etc.
There will be also created a financial institution legally operating within the occupied territory (bank) to provide opportunity of legal money transfer and financial support.
The further stage is establishment of a special “trust-fund”, which would fund implementation of various projects by NGOs. The desire of the Ministry is that they acted independently, all projects would be funded in open manner and the Ministry of Reintegration would support joint implementation of the mentioned activities.
The cooperation agency will be established as well, in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region / Southern Osetia, between the lines of demarcation for promotion of business development in the adjacent territories. Corporation operating under the aegis of the state will provide assistance for identification of the partners between the demarcation lines, for coordination of the efforts for improvement of local business environment from the side of local government and for promotion of the business opportunities for the potential investors in Georgia/abroad.
To facilitate communication and implementation of the joint projects between Georgian government, power controlling Abkhazia and the organizations operating within the Abkhazian territory the Action Plan includes formation of a Georgian-Abkhazian coordination mechanism (Liaison Mechanism). Desire of the government of Georgia is development of the similar mechanism for Tskhinvali region / South Osetia. The Status-Neutral Liaison Mechanism consists of the coordinator and deputy coordinator agreed upon with the both parties and appointed jointly, equipped with the offices and small number of the supporting staff, both, in Sokhumi and Tbilisi. The mechanism will be based on the Georgian/Abkhazian two-side coordination commission existing earlier. Technical and administrative support to it is provided by UNDP.
Other instruments for engagement mentioned were Joint Investment Fund and Integrated Social-Economic Zone.
The speaker mentioned that the meetings with the EU representatives is planned; in June the Action Plan will be put in place and in July the donor conference will be held, where the specific projects shall be presented.
State Minister for Reintegration also overviewed the projects planned in other spheres: in education, health and transport sectors, he also emphasized significance and priority degree of the public diplomacy in implementation of the mentioned Plan.
After the report the discussion continued in the mode of the questions and answers. The experts positively assessed the Plan and considered such issues as: what are the major hindering factors in the opinion of the Ministry of Reintegration; whether the legislative changes are prepared or not, to prevent non-compliance of the Action Plan with the Law on Occupied Territories and other laws, whether the old documents prepared in the CIS format will be used or not, whether the functions are assigned and who will provide coordination of interaction of all seven mechanisms, whether inter-departmental coordination will take place or not and which ministries will be actively involved in the mentioned process in addition to the Office of the State Minister for Reintegration. The State Minister for Reintegration named mentioned that the issue of replacement within the occupied territories should be dealt with and this should be done with the support from the EU Monitoring Mission; another important problem he named the attempts of demonizing of the documents to be issued by Georgia by the de-facto government in the occupied territories. Legislative changes in the Law on the Occupied Territories were made on 21st February 2010; hence, the mentioned Plan no more contradicts with it. The speaker mentioned that though the major coordination will be provided by the Minister of Reintegration, some structures will operate independently, e.g. the bank or the trust fund. The Minister stated that the desire of his Office is to create the horizontal system, which will not interfere into micro management.
The experts discussed attitude of the other states with the mentioned Action Plan. They also emphasized that the document does not include any psychological assistance, which, in their opinion, is necessary (so called psycho-social rehabilitation, occupation therapy).
The experts debated on the issues of terminology; some experts stated that certain terms are used inadequately.
In the discussion the experts stated that there are much more obstacles to implementation of the Plan than those listed in the report. Among them there are superstitions and false assumptions like, e.g. belief that the international organizations will surely involve in the activities of trust fund, that in Abkhazia they know that in Georgia there are various benefits which could be used, it is also doubtful that the de-facto government, with its narrow interests would have no objections to the mentioned Plan, that business can break the barrier of distrust. The author of these remarks said that the researches in Abkhazia show just the opposite things – they believe that they live better than the remained Georgia and that the international community would accept their de-isolation, if not recognize them.
The conversation between the experts and representatives of the Ministry dealt with the issue of cease-fire agreement; the speaker stated that the Abkhazian party requires the agreement for speculations and actually they are not driven by the fear of war recommencement. They have lost their function as a party to conflict and they attempt to regain this function. In this respect, the offer was made that Georgian Parliament may undertake such obligation unilaterally, what would add respect to Georgia from the side of international community.