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TEST NAME / Statement

The rights of people living in conflict regions and nearby and conflict transformation

The restoration of territorial integrity and conflict resolution are not been skipped from the pre-election programs of political parties, although they do not offer essentially new, transformational approaches that would create a vision for gradual and realistic conflict resolution. The political vision of the Georgian Dream party regarding conflict resolution and the improvement of human rights is practically invisible in the pre-election program. The ruling political team intends to continue the existing policy of reconciliation and engagement and increase access to public services for the population living in the occupied territories. The ruling political team has no vision of what specific measures will be taken to address the problem of "creeping occupation" and respond to the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories. Increased restrictions on freedom of movement and isolation during the Georgian Dream ruling have created a series of humanitarian crises in the occupied territories, affecting not only ethnic Georgian towns and villages but also Abkhazians and Ossetians. Given this experience, it is surprising when the governing team's vision remains unclear on how to manage such crises, what mechanisms should be used to improve the protection of fundamental human rights, and the overall humanitarian situation.

Other political parties' pre-election programs are not distinguished by new visions of conflict transformation and protection of rights in the occupied territories. The opposition parties’ plans in this direction include to continue the policy of non-recognition, the maintenance of "occupation" as a term in international documents, the continuation of active advocacy with international organizations and partners to impose responsibility on Russia as an occupying power. It also envisages maintenance of the Geneva talks format, various initiatives to address the problem of employment and housing of IDPs. Political parties plan to increase security measures along the occupation line, strengthen patrols, and establish video surveillance to stop the "creeping occupation". Pre-election programs also promise to activate the Tatunashvili-Otkhozoria list, which is envisaged as one of the mechanisms to stop the creeping occupation. Also, Strategy Builder and Lelo programs recognize the importance of rebuilding trust and engaging in direct dialogue with Abkhazians and Ossetians. Almost all opposition political parties agree that significant economic progress of Georgia and the sharing/offering of relevant benefits to Abkhazians and Ossetians are a prerequisite for resolving the conflict.

Political parties still find it difficult to offer cutting-edge initiatives to resolve the conflict. Political parties do not have a proper understanding of the reasons for the success or failure of similar mechanisms used in previous years, the permanently changing political contexts, and attitudes in the occupied territories. Georgia's economic progress and strong international support are important in this process, but they are not crucial in building trust and peace between the parties and communities. The political elites have not yet realized the shortcomings and problems of the Geneva International Talks format, which, even after 12 years of work, is unable to bring about positive changes. At the same time, it is clear that neither this format nor its main achievement, the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), has proved to be sufficient to address the humanitarian crisis.

Political parties also fail to offer what mechanisms they intend to apply to protect human rights in the occupied territories, nor is there a vision for the introduction of appropriate international mechanisms. It is also noteworthy that when we talk about the problem of protection of rights, the focus is largely on the discrimination of ethnic Georgians and the practice of human rights violations, which separates us from the objectives of restoring trust and reconciliation, and requires support for the unifying idea.

Thus, the political parties’s programs are based on largely outdated visions of de-occupation and conflict transformation policies and omit the changing political and social environment that exists in these regions. The programs are also not based on new policy alternatives and visions raised from the local context that would promote trust and reconciliation between the parties to the conflict, as well as the protection of human rights and prosperity on both sides.

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