#Georgia and #SouthOssetia – EU should support International Peace Project

| July 19, 2019

The EU has applauded the efforts of a pioneering project which aims to reconcile people in Georgia and South Ossetia, a so-called frozen conflict zone.

A source of tension since the break-up of the Soviet Union, South Ossetia hosted a brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Moscow subsequently recognised South Ossetia as an independent state and began a process of closer ties that Georgia views as effective annexation.

20% of Georgian territory is occupied by the Russian Federation, and the European Union did not recognize the territories occupied by Russia.

Tensions still simmer but, thanks to a go-ahead peace-keeping initiative, people on both sides are slowly coming together in reconciliation and mutual respect. This project is being considered by the EU for financial support.

A letter from the head of cabinet for commission vice president Jyrki Katainen applauds the initiative and says the European Commission looks forward to working with the project in the future.

The project was founded by Giorgi Samkharadze who told this website:”During the last decade the EU has been playing a considerable role in the Georgia/Russia conflict resolution.We deeply hope that with the support of the international donor organizations we will manage to contribute in a process of bringing Georgian and Ossetian people closer.”

He added: “We now see the promotion of peace in Georgia, not by the use of weapons but in peace projects.”

One notable achievement so far has been the construction of a new sports stadium in the village of Ergneti on the South Ossetia border.

The stadium recently hosted an official football game between youngsters from Georgia and South Ossetia. Samkharadze, who refereed the game, said: “The goal of the joint match was to kick off the peace-building activities between Georgia and South Osetia. But I stress that many events are scheduled, not just football and many cultural events will be held in the stadium.”

The ground also hosted another “peace match” between representatives from the Parliament of Georgia and team of Samachablo where the IDPs – displaced persons – from Tskhinvali.

The project will manage many common cultural and sporting events and facilitate the reconciliation between Ossetians and Georgians along with the development of villages close to the neighbourhood.

The initiative has also helped boost the economy and environment of the area.  For example, a newly created company has been responsible for cleaning of irrigation and water draining systems.

Samkharadze  said this will help to easy the daily life of the population living in the vicinity of boarder line and will also help to raise awareness of a young generation.

“This initiative generally will enhance the social welfare of the resident population,” he said.

The efforts being led by the Ergneti International Peace Humanitarian Project are supported by the Georgian government but are still in need of continued funding.

Samkharadze added: “The target group is Ossetians and Georgians in the conflict zone. There are many mixed families Ossetians with Georgians and there are also many kinship connections which we need to develop and promote.”

He says the intended beneficiaries will be Ossetian people, Georgians and population of the conflict zone.

He went on: “We would also like to point to the interest of high level EU representatives in Brussels to our project,including Gunther Oettinger, the European commissioner for Budget and Human Resources and EESC President Luca Jahier, who have wished us success in the implementation of the project.

“We know that the EU supports Georgia in fostering confidence building with the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia through people-to-people contacts, dialogue processes and academic exchanges.

“Projects funded under the EU instrument contributing to stability and peace, as well as certain projects funded under the European Neighbourhood Instrument and the Neighbourhood Investment Platform, are geared towards supporting our engagement policy from different angles.”

A letter from Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, until recently presidents of the European Council and Commission respectively, says the EU “remains committed to continuing it excellent bilateral cooperation with Georgia.”

The letter, seen by this website, goes on to say the EU looks forward to help “advance the political association and economic integration” between the EU and Georgia.

Samkharadze says that history has shown that quite often so called  public diplomacy is much more effective  than long lasting high level diplomatic negotiations in an effort to unlock unsettled frozen conflicts.

He believes the innovative project he launched is another, particularly successful, example of this.





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