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Bill on Neutral Travel Documents Passed
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Jun.'11 / 18:21

The Parliament passed on June 17 with its first reading package of government-proposed legislative amendments envisaging issuance of neutral travel documents and identification cards for those “legally” residing in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The package involves amendments to eleven various laws regulating such areas like issuance of passports; state symbols; taxes; public registry fees; education; law on grants and entrepreneurship, as well as amendments to the law on occupied territories.

According to the package of draft amendments, residents of the breakaway regions will be able to obtain such documents that will allow them to travel abroad and enjoy various social services and benefits available in the rest of Georgia. Accepting such documents will not mean taking Georgian citizenship.

According to the amendments, “neutral documents” will be issued “until the full restoration of Georgia’s jurisdiction on the territories of Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region (former Autonomous District of South Ossetia).”

The travel document will cost GEL 35 (about USD 21.2) and neutral identification card – GEL 10 (about USD 6).

According to the proposals these documents will be printed and filled in an unspecified foreign language, or as it the draft puts it, “non-Georgian language”. It will have a registration and individual numbers and will not have any Georgian state symbols. 
As part of the proposed package amendment will also be made into Georgia’s law on occupied territories in a part, which deals with rules of entry into the breakaway regions. According to the proposal it will no longer be illegal to enter into the breakaway regions for holders of neutral documents from the points, from where entry to those regions is currently deemed as illegal; but in such cases, the draft says, holders of neutral documents should notify the Georgian authorities about their intention.

The law on occupied territories specifies that in case of Abkhazia the entry should be carried out only from the Zugdidi district and in case of South Ossetia - from the Gori district. The law also lists those “special cases” in which entry into the breakaway regions will not be regarded as illegal. It says that “a special permit” on entry into the breakaway regions can be issued, if this trip there “serves Georgia’s state interests; peaceful resolution of the conflict; de-occupation or humanitarian purposes.”

Issuing of neutral travel documents and identification cards is envisaged by Action Plan for Engagement, part of Georgia’s State Strategy on Occupied Territories, adopted last July.

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