With shaking hands, ethnic Georgian and Azeri seniors of the southern town of Dmanisi expressed readiness this evening to end hours-long street violence between locals, triggered after last night’s local shop incident. The negotiations in Dmanisi Sakrebulo (Municipality Assembly) between the opposing parties were facilitated by the central and local government representatives, with both Muslim and Orthodox Christian clerics in attendance.
It remains to be seen whether the tensions, that turned into massive disturbances in the ethnically mixed town today, will fully subside after the deal.
In his press remarks after the negotiations, Leri Barnabishvili, Head of the Regional Liaison Department at the Government Administration, said that “the conflict is over,” and called on locals to get back to their homes, and “live peacefully alongside with their friends, neighbors, and compatriots.”
Kvemo Kartli region Governor, Shota Rekhviashvili commended the negotiating parties: “[the negotiators said] we are not [conflict] sides, we are the children of the same country and the banal conflict should not have triggered such [violent] response.” “We continue peaceful development of our country by [pursuing] multinational, multicultural relations.”
The Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, which was largely absent from today’s negotiation efforts, welcomed the agreement and expressed hopes that “every citizen, irrespective of their ethnic background, will share fully civic responsibility [aiming] to strengthen stable, peaceful and equal environment” in the country.
Khatia Dekanoidze of the United National Movement party slammed the Georgian Government for handling the negotiations similarly to the “mafia,” instead of pursuing its own legal authority. “We still do not have an official statement about how many persons they [police] arrested, who they questioned or who organized the crime,” Dekanoidze said.
Strategy Aghmashenebeli’s Sergo Chikhladze argued that Russian intelligence services could have been behind the disturbance in Dmanisi, attempting to fuel ethnic confrontation in Georgia. He called for “timely response, risk assessment and prevention” by the authorities in similar incidents.
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