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Saakashvili may pay for refugees06.09.2010 | 18:57
The recent story with the expulsion of Abkhaz and South-Ossetian refugees from Tbilisi may backfire on Saakashvili's regime in the international arena. According to the local media, Georgian partner-countries may "cut short" the republic's tranche of 23 million euros to be spent on reconstruction after the 2008 five-day war. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed with the experts Mikheil Nikolaevitch's chances to be given the finger by the West.
Operation Tbilisi Without Refugees initiated this summer by Tbilisi authorities seems to trigger the response of the civilized world. Well, one should think so: migrants from Abkhazia and South Ossetia are forcibly removed from the occupied territories. The repeated protest actions held near the president's residence didn't bring any results.
Presently, there are 200 thousand forced migrants from two Caucasian republics living in the former Soviet republic. In Tbilisi, they occupied the abandoned buildings, such as a hospital in Isansky region. It is notable that removing the people, the officials declared they would be given "decent" compensation.
Either these statements were an open and cynical lie, or Georgian authorities treat refugees like dirt. According to the oppositional deputies, there is no central heating and electricity in the houses where the people are going to be resettled and the nearest shop is seven kilometers away.
At first, international organizations' reaction to such arbitrary behavior of the capital authorities was dead. For instance, UN High Commission for Refugees only expressed regret that the expulsion process is lacking relevant transparency and refugees' awareness.
However, in some experts' opinion, the West's silence was explained by the fact that European structures first try to see into the problem and then produce a response basing on the information collected.
It looks like European Union was the first to figure out the situation. As was reported by Pirveli news agency, one of these days, Head of the EU mission Per Eklund expressed his displeasure with the actions of the Georgian minister for refugees and resettlement and, personally, head of the administration Koba Subeliani. According to the press, he already met with Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri and discussed the inadmissible attitude towards refugees.
Is there a possibility that Mishiko's partners will freeze the allocation of another tranche because of the Tbilisi authorities' war with refugees?
Chairman of All-Russian Forum of Migration Organizations Lydia Graphova:
The situation with the refugees' expulsion in Tbilisi is a bitter and a conflict one in itself. According to the law, one cannot allow the deterioration of life conditions for refugees; this is violation of the international law as well, though I can say there are a lot of cases in the history when the forcibly displaced persons were treated badly by authorities. As for the UN Commission's opinion, it is not always considered by the international community, unfortunately. Just look at what Sarkozy is doing to Gypsies; his actions are silently supported. It's difficult for me to say whether Georgia will be granted another tranche. On the whole, I do not think this story will affect the republic's international image.
Chairman of the Multinational Georgia public movement Arnold Stepanyan:
I'm not sure the tranche or tranches will be frozen, though I can say the international community has already produced the first reaction: the West is unable to make out why the attempt of resettlement is taken in an absolutely nontransparent environment. I mean the statement of the UN Commission. It is this statement that other international organizations build their arguments upon. I think a decision in respect of Georgia will be taken later on but I wouldn't say that this story will affect the future of financial assistance. The point is that such thing has already happened to the republic. For the first time, there were no sanctions against the Georgian government and there will hardly be any.
Georgian economy expert Georgy Khukhashvili:
I think, in this case, the probability of financial assistance being denied to Georgia is rather high, for many international organizations cooperate with the republic in humanitarian issues. That is why, if the authorities' approach to refugees is rigid and, frankly speaking, unreasonable from the standpoint of moral and policy, there will surely be problems with obtaining relevant assistance. Let me remind you that the western media, Reuters, for instance, have already responded to the refugees expulsion in Tbilisi. Besides, both the international organizations and, naturally, the Georgian society are dissatisfied with the current situation. So, if the story goes on, the consequences might be very unpleasant for the government.