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State Minister Presents Abkhaz, S.Ossetia Strategy to OSCE
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 19 Mar.'10 / 16:19

Temur Iakobashvili, Georgia's state minister for reintegration, called on OSCE "to find ways and tools how to become more active" in the implementation of Georgia's strategy towards its two breakaway regions.

Iakobashvili addressed a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna and presented the Georgian government's State Strategy on Occupied Territories: Engagement through Cooperation.
Presentation was part of the Georgian government's efforts to mobilize international support behind its strategy. Iakobashvili in recent weeks has toured western capital and various international organizations, including NATO, EU and Council of Europe presenting the document.

"Government of Georgia has chosen a path of de-isolation and engagment as opposed to the path of ostracism and exclusion," Iakobashvili told the Council.

"Sometimes the strategy is percieved as the [Georgian] government's reintegration or deocupation strategy. This is an incorrect definition," he said. "The title of the strategy precisely reflects its vision and strategic intent - it is the roadmap for engagement and cooperation with the communities, residing currently on the occupied territories. The strategy aims at creating environment and ground, which eventually will support to voluntary re-unification of communities and peaceful de-occupation of these territories."

"This is a long-term goal, which is not a subject matter of the strategy, but rather an eventual by-product of the conflidence and trust that could be built between the war-torn communities."

He said that two "fundamental pillars" were necessary in order to implement the strategy: non-recognition policy and active engagement.

"Active non-recognition policy should continue to be pursued everywhere. Russia has to be constantly reminded of its obligations under international law," Iakobashvili said. "At the same time, while our territories continue to be occupied, we should not forget about the people, who reside there."

He said that three issues were not included in the strategy: security, status and internally displaced persons. He said these were issues "of a medium to long-term nature." But relations between the communities separated by the war, he continued, was the issue of "an imminent humanitarian nature and we can not wait until all the differences are sorted out."

"We need to act now and act quick. This act has to be depoliticized," Iakobashvili said.

The Georgian government is now working on developing an action plan, which will lay out concrete proposals on how the strategy can be implemented.

Iakobashvili said the goal was to organize a conference in the nearest months to discuss an action plan. He also said that French Foreign Minister, Bernard kouchner, had expressed interest to host the conference.

The action plan, Iakobashvili said, would have two parts - unilateral actions and "bileteral activities with authorities in control", referring to the authorities of breakaway regions.

Unilateral actions, which can be undertaken by the Georgian government, will include providing residents of breakaway regions access to the benefits available for the rest of the population of Georgia - healthcare, education, social benefits or international travel. He said that Tbilisi was ready to amand its legislature to put it in line with this purpose.

In respect of actions, requiring interaction with the authorities in the breakaway regions, the Georgian government is offering to establish "status-neutral liaison mechanism."

"UNDP is sought to become platform for this mechanism and in particular cases it will serve as an implementation agency as well," Iakobashvili said.

In his address he also reiterated that conflict with Russia could only be solved through peaceful means. "This is the only viable way forward and we recognize this," Iakobashvili said.

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