Thea Akhvlediani, the Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality, on Thursday said an updated strategy and action plan with regards to the country’s Russian-occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia regions and the conflict-affected population was expected to “give a new impetus” to the reconciliation process and confidence-building through a “depoliticised dialogue”.
Addressing the Parliament, the official said the draft of the strategy and action plan - defining the Government's policies to the occupied regions and local populations, as well as those living adjacent to occupation lines - had involved “all state bodies” and developed in “close cooperation” with the country’s foreign partners.
She said the document reflected an “in-depth and comprehensive analysis and assessment” of thematic meetings held at the Parliament, views of domestic non-governmental organisations, and findings of related studies.
The strategy, of course, reflects the interests and needs of the people directly affected by the conflict”, Akhvlediani said, noting the next stage involved its “broad public discussion” in coordination with the country’s “strategic partners” and in consideration of a “dramatically changed” security environment due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Akhvlediani said the Government was taking actions to ensure "maximum" support for the people living in the occupied regions. Photo: Reconciliation Ministry press office.
She said using the strategy, the Government planned to improve humanitarian, legal and socio-economic conditions of the conflict-affected population, promote the expansion of people-to-people contacts with new initiatives, and make its efforts “more effective” to meet the interests of citizens living in the occupied regions.
Pointing to “growing interest” towards opportunities opened up by the Government's reconciliation and engagement policies among residents of the occupied territories, the official pledged the authorities would proceed with a “depoliticised, people-centred efforts”.
Within a couple of years since the establishment of the Peace Fund [as part of the Government's A Step To a Better Future initiative] three grant competitions have been held with more than 200 Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian project applications, of which 75 projects have been funded”, Akhvlediani highlighted.
The Minister spoke about the Government programmes designed to ensure support for the conflict-affected population. Photo: Reconciliation Ministry press office.
She also said the Government was taking actions to ensure education opportunities for individuals living in the occupied regions, noting 230 students had been enroled without exams in the country’s higher education institutions this year.
Considering education-related challenges in the regions and moves by the occupation forces to ban the Georgian language, the official said her office was cooperating with the Education Ministry to offer “alternative learning formats” for all levels of education and non-formal education, as well as developing opportunities for distance learning.