New Year Eve Bazaar opens in Ergneti, Georgia's breakaway region

Ergneti Bazaar before it closed in 2004. Photo by (RFE/RL), 28 Dec 2014 - 13:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

To support people living in Georgia’s breakaway region non-governmental organization (NGO) ‘Tskhinvali House’ organized one day New Year Eve Bazaar in a village Ergneti near the border between Georgia and occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region today, December 28.

Ergnety Bazaar aimed to support locals who can sell their agricultural goods for the New Year Eve. The project is supported by the European Union and the United Nations Development Program in Georgia.

The organiser of the project ‘Tskhinvali House’ is the confederation of 15 small organisations working with refugees from Tskhinvali in South Ossetia. ‘Tskhinvali House’ representative Marina Meshvildishvili emphasized that this event has nothing in common with the former Ergneti market closed down in 2004.

However, De-facto Minister of Foreign Affairs of occupied region of South Ossetia Murat Jioev did not believe that and commented that the event near so called border area will aggravate the situation. "Official Tbilisi plans to restore Ergneti market, which will not bring the positive results,” he said.

The village Ergneti was divided into two parts after Russia-Georgia’s war in August 2008. One part appeared in a buffer zone between Georgia and occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region and another part of the village is now the one of the last point on the provisional border of breakaway territories of South Ossetia. Ergneti was once the site of one of the largest wholesale markets in the Caucasus.

Meanwhile, Ergneti Bazaar was opened in 1991 and became the place where Georgians and Ossetians traded. This market was the source of the main income for the people living along the border of the occupied territories. However, in 2004 former government of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili closed the market down named the reason that it was major trading point for contraband goods.