Poti and Tskaltubo: Empowering Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Parliamentary Election Context

On 3rd and 4th of June, 2012 within the frameworks of the project “Empowering Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Parliamentary Election Context”, initiated by the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, two roundtable discussions were held in Poti and Tskaltubo. The goal of the initiated project is to promote and strengthen the civil activism and participation of IDPs in political processes and encourage political parties to integrate into their party programs the issues important and crucial for IDPs.

Key speakers of the meetings were researcher David Jijelava and doctor of psychology Ekaterine Pirtskhalava, who shared the outcomes of two recent researches. David Jijelava presented the research “Youth Development in Georgian Political Parties: Looking for Ways to Utilize Party Resources” financed by Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). Ekaterine Pirtskhalava talked about the role of Europe in conflict transformation and existing public opinion regarding this matter.

IDPs of new settlement in Poti, IDPs living in Poti and local young people, as well as media representatives have attended the meeting in Poti held on 3rd of June. An issue of the conflict transformation drew the particular interest of young IDPs during the discussion, although the subject attracted special attention of local young people as well. When discussing the ways of peaceful transformation of conflict, several issues were raised by IDPs: “Still unhealed trauma”; governmental propaganda on each side distancing Abkhazians and Georgians rather than bringing them closer together; Georgian perception of distorted rhetoric for Abkhazian youth – Georgians as enemy of Abkhazians; Georgia as minor player compared to Europe and Russia; still existing integration problems among IDPs and local society. Result of the two-hour discussion was the desire expressed by young participants to seek for answers and resolutions inside ourselves and the crucial importance of correct state policy.

IDPs of new settlement in Tskaltubo, the local community members and IDPs living in different sanatoriums have participated in the second meeting held in Tskaltubo on 4th of June. Similar to Poti roundtable, the issue of conflict transformation became the main subject of active discussion in Tskaltubo. When discussing the role of Europe, the IDPs raised the problematic connected to Georgia’s aspiration to NATO: how protected is Georgia from Russian war, if it continues to aspire to Europe and generally to NATO; how big are the threats for Georgia from Russian side; how different the today’s reality is from the situation before the 2008 War.

The Heinrich Boell Foundation will continue discussions with IDPs in Poti and Tskaltubo. Among many other important issues, the peaceful transformation of conflict will be the subject of roundtables planned to be organized in future between IDPs and majoritarian candidates of up-coming parliamentary elections within the framework of the project “Empowering Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the Parliamentary Election Context”.