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Ergneti market: a free economic zone?

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, January 23
Before the Rose Revolution took place, in the neutral zone between the administrative border of Georgia and its breakaway territory of South Ossetia, there existed a kind of wide-open market in an essentially free economic zone where the traders from Georgia, Russia and the Tskhinvali region (south Ossetia) would sell their products without paying taxes or customs duties. Of course these were illegal operations, but on the other hand, it was good example of ethnic integration, as business has no boundaries, no nationality and no religion. However, in 2004 Ergneti market was abruptly shut-down by the populist Rose regime under the slogan to establish law and order in the area. The current Georgian leadership– the Georgian Dream coalition, changed the country’s attitude towards the issue and promised to legalize the market, give it certain regulations and try to restore the market for the sake of increasing trust between the populations. More than 30, 000 people were busy in the Ergneti market activities. However, now much depends on the position of Russia and how willing it is to give the Ossetian and Georgian population a chance at reintegration.