11 years have passed since 2008 August war. However, essentially nothing has changed with regard to the issues of war and its political, social and human rights consequences. Russia still does not fulfill its internationally recognized obligations and is strengthening its military, political and economic influence over the occupied territories. Illegal fixation of borders of the occupied territories with the rest of Georgia (the so-called borderization) is a continuous process. International security instruments are not permitted on the occupied territories and the current situation there is not subject to international monitoring. In turn, such isolation has a severe impact on human rights conditions, creates information vacuum and complicates undertaking of necessary and effective measures for protection of human rights.

Return of the internally displaced persons is not even part of political agenda. They continue to live in difficult social conditions and hopelessness. Marginalization, helplessness and stigma is part of their everyday life. Human rights and social conditions of people living on the occupied territories is harsh. Local de facto governments are not capable of either undertaking democratic and human rights-oriented policies or of creating autonomous political agenda. Poverty, corruption and crime is part of the population’s everyday life. Living conditions on the occupied territories are particularly difficult for ethnic Georgians (mainly for people and families in Gori and Akhalgori regions), who are victims of express discriminatory policies and persecution. Living conditions are severe for persons living near the border. They live in the areas of high risk and are often subject to arbitrary detention, restriction of freedom of movement and of access to property and natural resources (forage, wood, water). In the recent years, the most severe instances of killing civilians with the participation and support of Russian troops were also observed.

Apart from taking land, resources, displacement, loss of life and trauma of defeat, Russian occupation has also meant that the state cannot create an independent, national political agenda. Military presence of Russia in Georgia is a direct instrument to influence and manipulate with our policies. These circumstances place Georgia at the intersection of geopolitical interests and leads to the dependence of its future on others.

Clearly, domestic political processes also affect the dynamics of conflict. The defeat of our democracy, poverty and economic inequality, worsening of human rights situation, weak integration policy takes away the historic possibility of having an impact on the occupied territories and deprives us of the resources for proposing positive alternatives. It is not evident that governments appropriately realize such value of and interest in devising and implementing national policy.

The issues relating to Abkhazeti and Tskhinvali regions are more of “lost territories”, than of rights of people living on both sides of the border, justice for them, humanism and collective memory. Insufficient attention is drawn to critical analysis of conflict history, the need for restoration of trust, dialogue and social transformation of regions. Discussion of the issues is substantively dehumanized and has completely departed from local social context. These issues have not sufficiently become subjects of research and academic work either. Superficial geopolitical and antioccupation sentiments suppress substantial, historic discussion that can encourage dialogue.

In these circumstances, we believe, it is essential that

  • Georgian Government prioritizes the policies related to conflict regions and strengthens its international and diplomatic work for bringing international security and monitoring mechanisms to occupied territories;
  • Georgian Government undertakes effective alternative positive policies, aimed at restoration of trust and dialogue between parties of the conflict, which will put strong emphasis on aspects of social policy and human rights protection.
  • International organizations in parallel to recognition and support of Georgia’s territorial integrity, also strengthen their efforts in the direction of brining security and monitoring instruments to the occupied territories;
  • Political actors, civil society, media and academic circles realize their civic responsibility in relation to issues of war and conflict and put emphasis on historic, social and dialogue-based approaches in public discussions. There is no alternative to trust, peace and dialogue building.

EMC once again sympathizes and expresses solidarity with war victims and shares its part of responsibility in building substantial policies oriented at real needs and interests of social groups.