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Public Defender initiates a law on mountainous regions

By Tamar Lagurashvili
Monday, June 2
Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili appealed to initiate a new law concerning the mountainous regions on June 1. He strongly believes that major problems facing the population residing in the mountainous regions are as follows: infrastructure, lack of electricity and natural gas, communication and education, including pre-school education. Nanuashvili also visited those residents whose houses had been badly damaged due to the earthquake and now their living conditions are quite lamentable.

The public defender urged the government to react and particularly concentrate on the youth employment issue in order to impede further migration. He refers to the rapid pace of migration as a “demographic catastrophe”.

All experts agree on the issue that the mountainous regions should have special status and allowances. The “Mountain law” proposed by the government should ensure not only the halt of the migration process, but the return of those people who have already left their dwellings. This process is crucial not only for Georgia’s social-economic development, but for its security as well.

Issues, like what is the potential of mountainous regions’ revival, how can people be returned to their places and what is threat beneath the rapid pace of migration are broadly discussed by two experts: the head of community of Aragvi gorge Koba Arabuli and expert in agriculture, Demur Giorkhelidze.

The head of the community of Aragvi gorge, Koba Arabuli, claims that living in mountainous regions is very difficult and that the situation was quite complicated even 20-30 years ago, but now it is even more difficult. According to him, at least three or four families used to live in each village, when now just one or two men live among several villages.

“This is a demographic collapse, a catastrophe for our nation.”

Arabuli perceives the only solution to be the creation of several communal entities, which will possess common farming associations in terms of live-stock farming and agriculture. He adds that the above mentioned aim cannot be achieved without proper financial support and thus, urges to the allocation of 2 million for each historical region. If the conditions are improved, he believes that many people will be eager to return to their houses.

“Only 91 families are left in Khevsureti. We should start shock therapy; we became losers because of our own fault.”

He assumes that there had never been recorded such a massive migration process and especially concerning Georgian women.

Analyst Demur Giorkhelidze assumes that the mountain problem is a serious issue, as nowadays territories are almost empty due to the very poor living conditions. He thinks that working out a state program concerning this issue is very important, because it is densely connected with the country’s security. Experts believe that farming, tourism and industry development should be the main priorities of state policy.

He points out that no one had been interested in the mountainous regions for the last 22 years, even though a special law was formally adopted. Giorkhelidze evaluates the overall situation and potential of the mountainous regions and uses the agricultural conditions in the Italian Alps as an example of how much can be done for further improvement.

“Not only the mountain villages, but valleys are also abandoned,” Giorkhelidze claims, stressing that with government support much improvement can be made in the regions.