Monday, February 20, 2006

International Development: Georgia says peacekeepers should focus on economic issues

Georgia's minister for conflict settlement, has said that peacekeepers stationed in the zone of a conflict between Georgia the breakaway region of South Ossetia, should change focus from military to economic issues.

Georgy Khaindrava told a news conference, "We do not understand why an emphasis has been placed on the military aspect of the peacekeeping process. We believe that economic rehabilitation must be the main focus, as it will help build confidence and promote ties between people".

Perhaps he want Russian peacekeepers to start up a few small businesses.

Footnote: The first major crisis was in the South Ossetian Autonomous Region. In December 1990, Georgian leader Gamsakhurdia summarily abolished the region's autonomous status within Georgia in response to its long-time efforts to gain independence.

When the South Ossetian regional legislature took its first steps toward secession and union with the North Ossetian Autonomous Republic of Russia, Georgian forces invaded. The resulting conflict lasted throughout 1991, causing thousands of casualties and creating tens of thousands of refugees on both sides of the Georgian-Russian border. Yeltsin mediated a cease-fire in July 1992. A year later, the cease-fire was still in place, enforced by Ossetian and Georgian troops together with six Russian battalions.