Berlin Declaration Banner smaller

Vigenin Tbilisi 2017Kristian Vigenin meets with Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Head of OSCE PA Delegation Sofio Katsarava and Vice-President George Tsereteli in Tbilisi, 27 Sept. 2017TBILISI, 29 September 2017 – Concluding a two-day visit to Georgia yesterday, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on the South Caucasus, Kristian Vigenin (MP, Bulgaria), urged continued efforts of reconciliation through improved conditions of the daily lives of people impacted by the protracted conflicts.

The Special Representative met with senior officials including the Speaker of the Georgian parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, the Head of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Government, Members of the Georgian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and OSCE PA delegation, as well as representatives of all political parties represented in parliament and civil society representatives.

In addition, Vigenin met with people displaced by the conflicts in Georgia, visiting several housing facilities provided by the Georgian government, and was briefed on ongoing efforts to improve conditions for those displaced. He also met with officials from the European Union’s Monitoring Mission, accompanying a patrol by the mission to the administrative boundary line near Odzisi.

Vigenin Georgia 2017Kristian Vigenin views administrative boundary line in Georgia, 28 Sept. 2017“The conflicts here in Georgia continue to have painful consequences for many thousands of people,” said Vigenin, who was informed of a number of negative measures taken in the past year by the de facto authorities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “Steps such as the closing of checkpoints on the administrative boundary lines and removing tuition in people’s native languages have real and lasting negative impacts on the lives of people in the region. On humanitarian grounds, I hope that such steps will be discontinued so that people can go about their daily lives.”

The Special Representative reiterated his commitment to work for increased international attention to the continued human impact of the conflicts.

“The more that obstacles to daily life and neighbourly contact are put in place, the more development across this region will be delayed and the people will suffer. Regular human level contacts can be a powerful positive force for reconciliation,” he said.

Following his meetings with political party representatives, Vigenin took note of the constitutional reform efforts currently taking place in Georgia, and encouraged all political forces to work for as broad a political consensus as possible. “It is up to the Georgian people to decide on how the country should be governed, and I hope that broad agreement can be reached in the interests of long-term stability.”

The visit in Georgia follows meetings earlier this week in Azerbaijan. Vigenin continued to Armenia today to complete his visit in the South Caucasus. He will report on the regional visit to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Standing Committee on 4 October, and will outline concrete proposals for future engagement in the region.

Vigenin was appointed Special Representative in February 2016 by the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. In his mandate, he is tasked with promoting dialogue in all segments of society, in particular at the parliamentary level, in order to encourage reconciliation and rehabilitation with regard to the protracted conflicts in the region.

This week’s visit is part of a range of activities he is undertaking in his role as Special Representative. Vigenin is a former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria and currently serves as Deputy Head of the delegation to the OSCE PA.

Photos of the visit are available on Flickr.

For the press release earlier this week on the Armenia leg of Vigenin's South Caucasus visit, please click here.