EURACTIV: ‘Batumi and Sokhumi: A tale of two cities'

 Ketevan Tsikhelashvili is Georgia's Minister of State. Photo:EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI., Aug 08, 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

EURACTIV has published an exclusive op-ed written by Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili in which she compares two Black Sea cities of Georgia – Batumi and Sokhumi – one being on the path to integration with Europe while the other remains occupied by Russia. 

Tsikhelashvili recalled the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership that took place this summer in Batumi which highlighted Georgia’s progress on its path towards EU integration. 

In a tale of two cities, Sokhumi, on the northwestern Black Sea coast of Georgia’s Abkhazia region, meanwhile, remains out of this race. Occupied by Russia, Abkhazia has become increasingly militarised and physically isolated under exclusive Russian dominance. This is even more true for the Tskhinvali/South Ossetia region in the heartland of Georgia, which has been turned into a heavily militarised ghetto with 80% of its original population depleted. Russia has kept a tight grip on over 20% of Georgia’s territories since its invasion in August 2008”, Tsikhelashvili wrote.

Tsikhelashvili wrote that unresolved conflicts in Georgia do not serve neither the interest of local populations nor the interest of Russia.

Russia then uses these conflicts to influence the course of development of countries concerned and keep them within its shallow orbit. However, this is against the rules of gravitation”, wrote Tsikhelashvili.

Tsikhelashvili says “there is a tremendous and timely need to address these unresolved conflicts in a thorough and peaceful manner”.

Read the full story here.