Elections in Georgia: how parties are planning to solve the territorial conflict
No political force in Georgia offers realistic solutions to the Abkhaz and Ossetian conflicts, says the Georgian Center for Human Rights Education and Monitoring, which has studied the election programmes of the main political parties.
The center’s report, published on October 27, says that the parties’ proposed approaches are outdated and do not take into account modern humanitarian and political realities.
Other research findings:
● The main conclusion is that political parties mention the conflicts in their election campaign, albeit superficially.
● The vision of political parties includes no alternative approaches aimed at restoring trust and reconciliation between the sides to the conflict.
A brief summary of the main trends identified in the EMC study:
Georgian Dream (ruling party)
The election campaign of the ruling party does not address the issue of conflict resolution and the rights of people living in these regions.
“The ruling political party does not have a vision of concrete measures to be taken to solve the ‘creeping occupation’ and how to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories”, the report states.
● “Our village isn’t occupied, but people are still fleeing” – life in a Georgian village in the conflict zone before the elections
● 10 years behind barbed wire — stories and photos from the Georgian–Ossetian conflict zone
In this regard, the Georgian Dream intends to continue the already proclaimed policy of reconciliation and cooperation and expand access to public services for the population living in the occupied territories.
EMC experts note that since the Georgian Dream came to power in 2012, there have been frequent cases of citizens’ free movement being restricted, including illegal detentions at the border. Such occurrences significantly worsen the life of people in the region – in villages, towns, and cities where Georgians, as well as ethnic Ossetians and Abkhazians, live.
“Given this history, it is surprising that the leadership’s vision of conflict resolutions and mechanisms to improve the overall humanitarian situation remains unclear,” the report says.
Almost all opposition parties agree on approaches to the conflict resolution, but still struggle to propose any innovative initiatives to resolve the conflict.
Neither do other parties have a fresh vision of conflict transformation and protection of rights in the occupied territories.
The opposition parties mainly emphasize the need to continue the non-recognition policy, to keep the term ‘occupation’ on the international agenda, and to work actively with international organizations to hold Russia accountable as the occupying state.
In addition, opposition parties are in favor of maintaining the Geneva talks format.
Political parties plan to strengthen security measures along the line of occupation, increase patrolling, and install video surveillance to stop the “creeping occupation”.
The election programs also mention the activation of the Tatunashvili-Otkhozoria list, which they see as one of the mechanisms for ending the creeping occupation.
Almost all opposition political parties agree that economic progress and sharing / offering proper benefits to Abkhaz and Ossetians are important in resolving the conflicts.
Political parties do not indicate mechanisms to protect human rights in the occupied territories. At the same time, EMC notes that Georgian politicians mainly focus only on discrimination and violation of the rights of ethnic Georgians and rarely mention Ossetians and Abkhaz: “Which, naturally, drives us away from building trust and reconciliation,” the report notes.
Who supports a direct dialogue with the Abkhaz and Ossetians?
The idea of direct dialogue is not popular in the Georgian political spectrum, because Georgian politicians believe that Georgia is in conflict with Russia.
However, there are two parties – Strategy Agmashenebeli and the Lelo political union – whose electoral programs recognize the importance of restoring trust and direct dialogue with the Abkhaz and Ossetians.