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Meeting with the students in the Gori State University 

March 31, 2022

On March 24, representatives of the Human Rights Center met students in the Gori State University. The main topic of the discussion was peace dialogue between the Georgian and Ossetian peoples and eradication of the problems caused by the armed conflict in the territory of the former autonomous oblast of South Ossetia. 

Executive director of Human Rights Center Aleko Tskitishvili spoke about the mission and vision of the organization, about the projects the organization has implemented in Shida Kartli region, among them: representing the victims’ rights in front of the International Criminal Court, which investigates the alleged war crimes committed during 2008 in Georgia; about the defense of the rights of people living alongside the division line; as well as about peace-dialogues between Georgian and Ossetian people and perspectives of reconciliation. 

Nino Tlashadze, deputy executive director of Human Rights Center, presented the findings of the HRC’s report „Legal Analysis of the Process of Property Restitution and Citizenship Restoration to Ethnic Ossetians Affected from the Conflict,” which was published with the financial support of the British Embassy in Tbilisi. In accordance with the report, it is necessary to consider as one of the priority issues in the Government's Action Plan the resolution of the matters of compensation, restitution, and citizenship for the ethnic Ossetian population affected by the conflict. Also, it is important to make the Commission of Restitution and Compensations to be operable in time, and to set a list of specific criteria, procedures, and documents based on which the restitution of property to those affected will be carried out or relevant compensations paid.

The students were informed about the importance of the actual implementation of the Law on Restitution and Compensation, which was adopted in 2006, for the facilitation of the trust-building and reconciliation process that was underlined in the report too. Namely, the HRC believes that the authorities must understand that the real and effective implementation of the restitution process, satisfying the fair requirements of refugees and people affected by the conflict is important not only for the formal implementation of the obligations taken before the Council of Europe but first and foremost for justice, building confidence between the people, and for reconciliation. 

Human Rights Center often organizes three-sided peace dialogue meetings and trainings between Abkhazian, Georgian and Ossetian civil society representatives in the third countries. Participant of one of similar meetings, the student of the law faculty at the Gori State University Medea Pavliashvili spoke about her impressions from the meeting with the Abkhazian and Ossetian young people. She said the trauma, stereotypes and fears caused by the conflict are so strong in our societies, that in the beginning of similar meetings people are strained and keep distance; but very soon the participants of the meetings find common interests and make friends with each other. It happened during the meeting in Istanbul, when neither language barrier hindered the Abkhazian, Georgian and Ossetian young people to become friends. Medea Pavliashvili wrote about her impressions from the Istanbul meeting in her blog, which was published on – No language barrier exists.

During the meeting, the student of the Grigol Robakidze University Nikoloz Jabakhidze noted that democratic development and strong economics of Georgia will facilitate reconciliation process as it will encourage the Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples living in the occupied territories to plan their future with the State of Georgia. At the same time, it is necessary that Georgia re-considered and responded those mistakes, which were made during the conflict with the Abkhazian and Ossetian peoples. 

The students got interested whether the de-facto government of South Ossetia is ready to participate in the process of property restitution and compensation as in accordance with the law, the properties lost in the occupied territory of South Ossetia shall be restituted to the Georgian IDPs too. Besides that, the number of internally displaced Georgian people increased after the 2008 armed conflict; the Russian occupation forces destroyed Georgian villages and the ICC is now investigating those crimes. Therefore, nowadays restitution of the lost properties in the occupied territories will be complicated, even impossible without the active participation of the de-facto government of South Ossetia. 

Human Rights Center believes the Government of Georgia is responsible to timely start restitution and compensation process at least of the properties which are located in the Georgia-controlled territory. Eventually, in parallel to the de-occupation, it will be possible to restitute the property rights of IDP Georgian people in Tskhinvali region too. The victims of the conflict have not lost hope that the state will defend their rights and restore justice. 

After the meeting with the students, HRC handed over the hard copies of the reports to the library of the Gori state university, among them was the report Legal Analysis of the Process of Property Restitution and Citizenship Restoration to Ethnic Ossetians Affected from the Conflict in Georgian, Russian and English languages.