Georgian NGOs Call for "Suitable" Policy for Russia

Georgia-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), united under the Coalition for Euro-Atlantic Georgia, have released a joint address to the Georgian government, emphasizing the necessity to set up an “adequate” policy for Russia.

The NGOs released the statement in response to the recent public discussions over the controversial Georgian-Russian relations as well as to statements made by Georgia's highest-ranking officials and their reaction to “yet another aggressive action committed by the Russian Government.”

The organizations underlined the recent developments regarding the death of Georgian citizen, Archil Tatunashvili in unclear circumstances on February 23 in Georgia’s occupied and Russian-backed South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) region. They noted that despite the effort of Georgia’s governmental and civil sector, his body has yet to be transferred to Georgia.

“This once again shows that Russia is an aggressor manipulating human tragedies,” the statement says.

In parallel, the NGOs welcomed the release of Ioseb Pavliashvili and Levan Kutashvili, detained along with Tatunashvili by occupant forces, adding their release would have been impossible without the efforts made by the Georgian public and countries friendly to Georgia.

“We welcome the resolution planned to be passed by European Parliament as a result of the Georgian delegation's activities, the US State Department's support for Georgia as well as the firm position assumed by the representatives of various European institutions and countries with regard to the Russian government's aggressive actions,” the statement reads.

The civil sector says that the recent appeal of the Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili towards Russia, in which he calls on Russia to have a "constructive approach" to the direct dialogue with Abkhazians and Ossetians in the context of the Geneva International Discussions, is difficult to understand.

“His message regarding readiness to "take other reasonable steps" is no less ambiguous. It is incomprehensible what the Georgian government is trying to achieve by making such statements,” the NGOs note.

The non-governmental sector says the expectations that Russia will suddenly change its approach to Georgia and start carrying out responsible policy, are “exaggerated.”

“The Prime Minister's statement sent an ambiguous message to the public, suggesting that there is still a realistic chance that Russia will relinquish its aggressive intentions regarding Georgia, act out of consideration for our country's interests and ‘allow’ us to regain our lost territories,” the statement reads.

The NGOs also negatively assessed the response of the Kremlin to Kvirikashvili’s letter, which reads that “nobody should have doubts that Russia is interested in improving relations with neighboring Georgia and is ready to go as far as Tbilisi is.”

The organizations believe Russia’s response was “cynical and threatening in content” rather than a positive answer to the cooperation offered by the Georgian PM.

“The Georgian government's messages are not clear, resulting in confusion and a feeling of powerlessness among the public,” they added.

The Georgian non-governmental sector believes that the Geneva International Talks, the only format for direct dialogue between Russia and Georgia since the August War 2008, is efficient, however, they question the effectiveness of another Russia-Georgia format, the so called Abashidze-Karasin meetings, claiming it a “non-transparent format” which does not involve international actors, and potentially involving significant risks for Georgia's interests.

The Coalition for Euro-Atlantic Georgia is calling on the Georgian government to provide the public with concrete information about the vision of addressing the prevailing challenges and the corresponding plans with regard to future relations with Russia.

It also welcomes the discussion in the Parliament of Georgia concerning the adoption of an extraordinary resolution.

“We call on the parties to put aside their disagreements and unite their efforts as soon as possible to pass a resolution defending Georgia's interests which, in addition to evaluating the actions of the occupying regime of the Russian Federation and the agencies under its effective control, will also aim to introduce effective sanction instruments to respond to the crimes that they commit,” the NGOs said.

Thea Morrison

15 March 2018 18:32