Ethnic policy in Georgia

Rusiko Amirejibi-Mullen r.amirejibi-mullen at
Thu Oct 30 09:55:37 UTC 2008


by Benjamin Wheeler

College entrance examinations are now being conducted in Russian,  
rather than just Georgian, so as to accommodate the many Russian  
speaking Armenians, Azeris, Abkhaz, Ossetians, and other minorities.  
New colleges are being opened in ethnic minority regions of Georgia,  
with affirmative action programs to ensure they serve the local  
communities. Much of Georgia's Millennium Challenge grant is being  
spent on infrastructure in the mostly ethnic Armenian south. Most  
Ossetians living in Georgia's territory actually live outside South  
Ossetia, in the rest of Georgia, and there is a very high rate of  
Georgian-Ossetian mixed families. And, most crucially, the Saakashvili  
government has long offered a peace settlement to both separatist  
regions that would give their ethnicities perpetual power over the  
Georgia majorities within their regions and local control of nearly  
all matters of government. This may not be an acceptable plan to  
Abkhaz or Ossetians, but it is a serious proposal that does much to  
recognize their need for protection and autonomy. The Georgians also  
have a standing offer to open talks with the separatists without  
preconditions; Russia has denounced such talks, and the breakaway  
regions have steadfastly refused to enter them. Meanwhile, the  
regions' economies have been in shambles for fifteen years, the poor  
organization of their pro-war governments has made them havens for  
international trafficking in arms and people, and hundreds of  
thousands of Georgian refugees live displaced.

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