Georgia is losing “passport war”06.07.2011 | 12:24
The Georgian authorities are again trying to hush down definitive loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This time Tbilisi tries to tempt population of the republics with "neutral" passports. However, judging by all, this initiative of Mikheil Saakashvili's regime is doomed to failure. Natella Akaba, secretary of Abkhazia's Public Chamber, told GeorgiaTimes why Tskhinval and Sukhum won't agree to use these documents.
Georgian leaders abandoned the idea to find opportunities for a dialogue with its former autonomies long ago. The country's ruling elite prefers creating "alternative governments" or weird strategies stipulating "involvement through partnership". Naturally, recognition of the right of local populations to independence is out of question.
The idea of introducing "neutral" passports is quite in line with flawed and arrogant policies Tbilisi is pursuing. These substitute documents are more like a spit on the population of both republics. Hardly does the ruling elite of the country really believe in the success of its plans. Obviously Georgian authorities simply want to neutralize Russia's influence on these states without any concern of the need to start a negotiating process with Tskhinval and Sukhum.
Earlier state minister of Georgia's government Ekaterina Tkeshelashvili remarked that "neutral" passports help their owners move freely inside the country and abroad. Besides, as the official claimed, Tbilisi has already found a common language with its partners with regard to adoption of such documents. To make these IDs more attractive, young people that receive passports will be enrolled in the president's program that will allow Ossetians and Abkhazians get education in foreign universities.
However, it's unlikely Tskhinval and Sukhum will be seduced by promises of the Georgian leaders. In an interview with GeorgiaTimes Natella Akaba, secretary of the Public Chamber of Abkhazia confirms this fact. According to her there is no serious discussion going on in the republic on the issue. "Nobody takes it seriously. Why would we need "neutral passports"? Who will consider them"? Are EU countries ready to "legalize" them? Georgia gives no answers to these questions", - she highlights.
Akaba also remarks that practically all Abkhazians are citizens of Russia, i.e. they have all rights conferred by such double-eagle documents to their owners. Thus, acquiring additional "neutral" passports from Georgia makes no sense at all. Citizens of the republic are able to travel around the world without them.
Natella Akaba reminds that in mid 1990s the population of Abkhazia faced serious problems of document processing. At that time - when the problem was really vital - Georgian leaders did not offer help to their neighbors. "There was a period when we had no passports at all. People were literally locked up in Abkhazia without any chance to move outside its territory. We then called on Sukhum's UN mission for special ID cards issued by this organization for people without citizenship. It was unambiguously explained to us that such documents should be forgotten. Then Russia started issuing its passports for us", - the secretary of Abkhazia's Public Chamber told. - It was a noble gesture. Now some people claim Moscow did it by force, but this is not true - naturally".
According to Natella Akaba, today's proposal of official Tbilisi can be used by citizens of Gal district of the republic that have no Russian citizenship. "But many of them have Georgian passports. That is why it is particularly difficult to judge whom these "neutral" IDs are meant for", - our interlocutor remarked.
On the other hand, both republics are well aware of the inner sense of this proposal. In reality it is a sort of loyalty test to Saakashvili's regime. Most probably, there will be more PR actions involving "representatives" of Abkhaz and Ossetian youth that will thank Tbilisi for an opportunity to go abroad on "neutral" passports. Yet, these words will be as honest and sincere as statements pronounced by the Georgian president on eternal peace with Tskhinval and Sukhum before his attack on South Ossetia in August 2008.