The Government of Georgia plans to launch a set of legislative initiatives for enhancing economic and people-to-people exchanges between residents of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced at the government session today.
The new initiative, dubbed as a Step to a Better Future, will have three objectives: facilitating trade across the dividing lines; enhancing educational opportunities in Georgia and abroad; and simplifying access to Georgia’s EU integration benefits (visa waiver, free trade, etc.).
Speaking at the government session on April 4, PM Kvirikashvili stressed the Georgian authorities would continue implementing “concrete steps” for improving the humanitarian, social, and economic conditions for residents of the two regions, and for fostering their contacts and exchanges with the rest of the country.
“This is yet another statement of ours reaffirming that the government’s peace policy will definitely continue, and which, despite many challenges, has remained our firm, consistent, and continuous choice,” Kvirikashvili said.
Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili commented on the matter as well, reiterating that the government’s new initiative was “an open and determined statement” that the government’s peace policy was “unwavering,” and that the challenges would be addressed through “peace, development, principled stance, and consistency.”
Tsikhelashvili spoke on the modalities as well, emphasizing that the new initiative would, among others, facilitate access of goods produced in the two regions to Georgian and foreign markets though simplified registration and taxation procedures, and would enable Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region residents to use public services through a new – “status-neutral” identification mechanism – the so called “individual number.”