Open letter to the Government of Georgia on the necessity of developing a new state strategy relating to conflicts
Georgia's state strategy relating to the occupied territories - "Engagement through Cooperation" - was developed back in 2010 during the rule of the United National Movement. The creation of this document was based on many months of work and was some kind of response of the then ruling force to the 2008 occupation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. As soon as the strategy was adopted, a significant number of Georgian and international experts said that its implementation would be complicated and would bring no proper results.

Today, 11 years after the adoption of the strategy, we can really say that the document has largely failed.

Against this background, it is completely unclear why the strategy relating to the occupied territories is not being revised by the Georgian Dream, especially given the significant political changes that have taken place both regionally and internationally over the past eleven years. For example: in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and is still occupying the eastern part of Ukraine; Full-scale hostilities have taken place between Armenia and Azerbaijan twice (2016, 2020), thus significantly changing the security architecture in the region; Russia refined and is actively using elements of soft power and hybrid war, both in the immediate neighborhood and beyond. At the same time, relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated sharply since 2010. The situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia has also changed - mostly for the worse. If the main challenge during the development of the strategy was the occupation of the country's territories, today we are seeing a tendency of annexation of the territories.

Unfortunately, the rights situation of people living in the occupied territories has not improved during these years either; On the contrary, the violations of human rights (even the right to life) have become common. The ethnic Georgian residents of Gali and Akhalgori are under particular pressure. The Akhalgori district is, in fact, on the verge of being abandoned by the local population.

We understand very well that the extremely difficult problems accumulated since the 90s cannot be solved all at once. At the same time, their gradual solution requires common national efforts and pragmatic approaches. Therefore, it is time for the Government, with the involvement of experts, to start developing a new strategy relating to conflicts, which should consider and reflect the different situations created, on the one hand, in Abkhazia and, on the other, in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia; should oppose both the occupation and the annexation processes (in this process, we may also find allies on the ground); Along with the occupation, it should pay no less attention to the deepening of Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian relations; should provide greater access of Western institutions to the occupied territories; should focus on protecting the rights of local population and not isolating them from the outside world; should single out the Akhalgori and Gali districts as priority directions.