State Minister: Georgia promises to expand autonomous regions' rights

Georgia, Tbilisi, April 29 / Trend N.Kirtzkhalia /

Georgia is ready to use the European experience and provide Abkhazia and South Ossetia with expanded autonomous rights as stipulated in the Constitution, Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Eka Tkeshelashvili said.

She said representatives of the autonomous regions will be able to run for vice-president of Georgia, and will enter parliament.

"The matter is securing the rights of regions at the constitutional level that would guarantee expanded autonomous rights in the classical sense of European constitutionalism," Tkeshelashvili said in an interview with Trend.

Georgia, she said, is ready to promote the political, economic, cultural and original development of its regions.
Following the conflict in August 2008, the autonomous regions of Georgia - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - have unilaterally declared independence and secession from Georgia. Despite protests from the West, Russia supported the separatist regions and established diplomatic relations with them.

Georgia, Tkeshelashvili said, is aware that the settlement process will take time; but hope should not be lost for the implementation of international laws toward the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The refugee problem

Resolving the conflict of restoring territorial integrity and returning refugees to their homes remains a priority for Georgia.

The Reintegration Ministry is working to recover lost contacts, both diplomatic and ordinary human relationships, she said.

"The ministry aims to create a regime based on the refugees' gradual return to their homes, which will be entrenched in international security principles," Tkeshelashvili said.

She said it deals with about 500,000 people who are unable to return to their homes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"For us it is important that social problems and issues have a positive trend, so that these people may be integrated into the economic and social life of Georgia," Tkeshelashvili said.
The issue of Georgian refugees' returning will be a key in the negotiations with the Russian side, Tkeshelashvili said, whether this rest in the Geneva discussions or in any other format.

The Geneva discussions that maintain an informal character are the primary manner of communication for all parties hoping to settle the Georgian conflict. Delegations of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia and U.S.A, as well as representatives of the EU, UN and OSCE, are represented in the discussions.

Difficulty in making joint decisions

There are difficulties associated with complex decision-making mechanism in working with international organizations, the minister said.

Particularly, decisions are taken by consensus in the largest organization in the continent's security OSCE. Such a principle of unanimity often blocks the decision-making process because of cultural, religious and social differences among its 56 member-countries.

"What should be the strength of the OSCE become its blocks, as the decision- making process makes it virtually impossible to resolve urgent problems," Tkeshelashvili said.

The OSCE observation mission operated in Georgia since 1992. In 2009 Russia vetoed the continuation of its activity, claiming a biased attitude. At this stage, the OSCE representatives are participating in the process of the Georgian settlement only under the Geneva Convention.
E.Ostapenko (Baku) contributed to the article.

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