Tbilisi Outlines S.Ossetia Policy in Three-Year Action Plan

The Georgian government has proposed a meeting between South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity and Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli on September 15 in a response to the allegations made by authorities in the unrecognized republic and certain Russian politicians that Tbilisi plans military intervention to gain control over the region by mid-September.

In an interview with Civil Georgia on August 5, Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Giorgi Khaindrava said that these “groundless” accusations might be a sign of provocations to be anticipated in the conflict zone as the Ossetian side tries to sidestep the proposals.

“They, certain forces in Russia, want tensions in the region and are creating a false picture of Georgia in an effort to inspire hostilities. They will fail. We are watching the situation in the conflict zone very closely and we will not let it happen,” Giorgi Khaindrava said.

He said that the Georgian government has prepared a three-year action plan, the so-called “South Ossetia Roadmap.” The document, which according to Georgian officials is still pending release, prescribes measures Tbilisi intends to carry out in order to solve the conflict peacefully.

Khaindrava said that demilitarization of the conflict zone; confidence building measures; rehabilitation projects; joint economic projects, involving the Georgian, South Ossetian and Russian sides and certain economic benefits for the region are the main priorities of this action plan.

He said that this plan is mainly based on a recent peace proposal voiced by the Georgian side in regard to South Ossetia, which Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili mentioned during his address to the UN General Assembly Session last September; Saakashvili’s speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe in January and at the international conference on South Ossetia held in Batumi in July.

“This [document] represents a broad-range of opportunities. Each of the relevant state agencies has its task [in frames of this document],” Khaindrava said, adding that, for example, the Ministry of Economy will work on joint economic projects in the conflict zone to help locals, both Georgians and Ossetians, to launch small businesses.

The economic proposals also include an offer to create, as Khaindrava put it, an “economic corridor” via South Ossetia, which will enable the Russian side, particularly companies from the Russian Federation Republic of North Ossetia to get the shortest and cheapest access to Georgia’s Black Sea ports.

“If we are able to use the full capabilities of the Trans Caucasian Highway [via South Ossetia linking Georgia with Russia through Roki Pass] it will be beneficial not only for the Georgian and South Ossetian sides, but also for Russia, mainly for the North Ossetian Republic,” Khaindrava said.

The action plan also includes measures related to property restitution and other forms of compensation to the victims of the conflict. Georgia undertook a commitment to pass a law on Property Restitution in 1999 when it joined the Council of Europe, but Tbilisi has failed so far to meet this commitment. Khaindrava said that the Georgian Parliament is expected to pass the Law on Restitution in September.

“We are ready to compensate damage caused during the conflict. This will be a huge amount of money but we are not alone we hope for assistance from our foreign partners,” Khaindrava said.

He said that the Georgian side should not hesitate to admit the crimes and mistakes it committed in the early 90s during and before the armed conflict in South Ossetia. But he said that this confession should be a reciprocal measure, and part of the trust-building process.

“People should know what crimes were committed. We should not be afraid of owning up to our mistakes and we should not run away from responsibility… But of course it was not only our crime,” Khaindrava said.


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