MINELRES: Georgia: Draft Law on Meskhetian Repatriation

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Jun 16 17:31:01 2007


Original sender: Emil Adelkhanov <emil-ade@cipdd.org>


Civil Georgia / 2007-06-13 20:08:12 
http://www.civil.ge/eng/detail.php?id=15274

Draft Law on Meskhetian Repatriation

Procedures for repatriatation of Meskhetians will start next year,
according to a draft law proposed by the ruling majority in Parliament.

The Muslim population of the southern Georgian region of
Samtskhe-Javakheti - about 20,000 families - was deported to other parts
of the former Soviet Union, mainly to Central Asia, in 1944 by Joseph
Stalin. Many of them currently reside in Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine.
Georgia undertook a commitment to repatriate them on joining the Council
of Europe (CoE) in 1999.

Until now, there has been a reluctance to fulfil this obligation. With
200,000 internally displaced persons from Abkhazia and South Ossetia,
the authorities have said they were not in a position to provide for the
Meskhetian returnees.

"Not only CoE commitments, but also Georgia's NATO bid has become a
reason to accelerate the process," MP Pavle Kublashvili, co-author of
the draft law, told Civil.Ge on June 13.

The draft law proposes that deportees and their family members,
including their grandchildren, will be eligible for repatriation.

According to the proposal, those willing to return should apply at the
nearest Georgian consulate or at the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and
Accommodation, any time between January 1 and December 31, 2008.

"This one year period will enable us to see exactly how many people are
willing to return and based on this information we will be able to plan
- rationally and based on our national interests - the pace of the
process," MP Giga Bokeria of the ruling party said on June 13.

Applicants will require old Soviet papers to prove they were deported
from Georgia in 1944, according to the draft law.

The proposal does not oblige the Georgian authorities to provide any
financial support to the returnees.

"As far as I know none of the international or foreign state
organizations is planning to provide this kind of financial support," MP
Pavle Kublashvili said.

The process will be administered by the Ministry of Refugees and
Accommodation, according to the draft law.

The interior and justice ministries will also be involved, with the
right to veto any applicants based on undetermined criteria.

In fact, the draft law does not outline clear criteria to determine
eligibility. 

Some opposition figures were vocal in their criticism of the draft
legislation. The Conservative Party said that the returnees could pose a
separatist threat. The Labor Party, predictably, also condemned the
proposal.

The government, however, said that the legislation had been drafted in
such a way so as to avoid any possible complications. Its enactment, it
said, would also mean that Georgia could finally fulfil a long standing
international
commitment.

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