An engagement strategy towards the occupied territories: An insight into achievements
Author: By Nikoloz Devdariani
Two years ago, in January of 2010, the government of Georgia adopted a national strategy for engaging with the regions occupied by Russia since the August 2008 War. The so-called State Strategy Engagement through Cooperation was created by the Office of the State Minister for Reintegration, and soon came to be hailed by all actors, except the authorities in the occupied regions and the Russians, who distanced themselves from it, unhappy with the term “occupation”. In July 2010, the government lived-up to its pledge by publishing the Action Plan for Engagement, a detailed roadmap designed to put the ideas of the strategy into practice.
The Engagement Strategy was assessed as a totally new approach to the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two breakaway regions of Georgia that Russia had seized control of militarily and declared independent. The flat-out domination of those regions and the ongoing occupation by Russia pushed the Georgian authorities to come up with novel mechanisms and ways to maintain and reinforce links between the war-torn communities.
The Strategy and the Action Plan, presented as “apolitical” and “human-centric”, envisaged activities in four dimensions – humanitarian, human, social and economic – and offered seven instruments for implementation. The idea was to realize “projects that seek directly to improve the welfare of the populations of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, so that they have the same opportunities available to the rest of Georgia and support interaction between the divided communities.” Thus, the focus has been on population.
After two-years in its existence, it is interesting to review what has been achieved in the framework of this policy.