Georgia condemns “Borderisation” along Tskhinvali Occupation Line
The State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) stated on 20 August that the “borderisation” process reported by media is taking place near Okona village, Kareli Municipality, and Gremiskhevi village, Dusheti Municipality, is a “continuation of the illegal process that started in April 2021.”
“The hotline has been activated and the European Union’s Monitoring Mission has been informed about the illegal so-called “borderisation” cases. The information has been shared with the co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID),” the SSG announced.
According to the Agency, “all facts of illegal borderization are discussed at the meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), as well as at [GID].”
Per the SSG, “the illegal borderization process complicates the daily life of locals and damages the security environment, for which the full responsibility lies with the occupation regime.”
Ruling party criticized for refusing ISFED at electoral system reforms group
On 18 August, the ruling Georgian Dream party chose not to invite one of the most influential civil society organizations working on elections, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), to the first meeting of the electoral reforms working group meant to develop the legislative changes necessary for the EU candidate status. Georgian Dream cited the “loss of neutrality” by the organization, as the reason.
The decision was criticized by both the civil society sector and the opposition. The CSO – Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), which was invited to participate, left the meeting in protest.
Givi Mikanadze, the first Deputy Chairperson of the ruling party and the head of the electoral reforms group, explained that while he “personally” made the decision not to invite ISFED, his stance is shared by Georgian Dream. “It is impossible for an organization that questions the legitimacy of this government, calls for the government’s dismissal, [and] the formation of a technical government, to join this legitimate process…,” he said.
ISFED responded to the ruling party’s decision with an official statement released on the same day, which explained that “the government’s attitude is a direct demarche against ISFED and the civil sector as a whole, despite constructive position and willingness of latter to engage in working groups.”
The organization believes that the “removal of the professional organization from the process actually indicates the creation of the working group as a formality, the purpose of which, instead of improving electoral legislation and fulfilling the recommendations of the European Commission, is to prolong the process and create the illusion of readiness in fulfilling the recommendations.”
GYLA’s chairperson Nika Simonishvili left the working group in protest and stressed that he will not participate in meetings “where my colleagues are discriminated against.”
The U.S. Embassy asserted in a 19 August statement that the exclusion of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), one of Georgia’s “most trusted and experienced election observation organizations,” from the Parliamentary working group on electoral reforms “directly contradicts” the European Commission’s 12 recommendations for Georgia to involve civil society in decision-making processes.
Georgian, Armenian PMs Open New Bridge, Discuss Cooperation
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili met with his Armenian counterpart, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on 19 August to discuss bilateral cooperation.
The two met after taking part in a joint ceremony to open a new bridge connecting Armenia and Georgia at the Sadakhlo crossing point. Both countries worked together on the project with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) also contributing EUR 7 million to the project. The bridge crosses the Debeda river and spans 160 meters with 4 traffic lanes.
According to the Georgian Government, the discussion focused on existing cooperation in the fields of trade, the economy, transport, logistics, and culture with emphasis placed on “deepening the existing close partnership and friendly relations.”
PMs underscored Georgia’s role in promoting peace and stability in the region, especially in light of the meeting held in Tbilisi between the Armenian and Azeri Foreign Ministers in July.