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No refugee centers in Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, March 7
Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) commented on the opinion of the Austrian Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, about the opening of refugee receiving centers in the Balkan Countries and Georgia.

“Redistribution of the European Union migrants has never been raised with the Georgian side at any level meetings,” the statement of the MFA reads.

The Ministry explained that the issue was not even mentioned during the official visit of Sebastian Kurz to Georgia on February 3.

“This issue is not on the agenda in Georgia as its implementation is impossible due to our present challenges,” the MFA said.

Sebastian Kurz said in his interview with German newspaper Bild on March 5 that it would be good to create EU reception centers for refugees outside the borders of the union, for example in Georgia or in the Western Balkans.

“These countries will ensure their protection, and those people who illegally try to get into Europe will be sent back there. The facilities could be placed in countries such as Egypt, Georgia, or somewhere in the Western Balkans,” Kurz stated.

Giorgi Kakhiani, a member of the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) and the Chair of the Procedural Issues Committee says that the statement of Sebastian Kurz was unexpected for the government of Georgia.

“This issue is not on our agenda and it has never been discussed. I think the Austrian Foreign Minister will make further explanations over the issue himself,” he added.

A political expert, Gia Khukhashvili, rules out any concrete agreement between Strasburg and Tbilisi concerning refugee centers in Georgia.

Khukhashvili believes that no particular agreement has been reached even if Austrian FM has such a desire.

“The proposal of the Austrian FM directly relates with security issues and Georgia is a very problematic location for such, even humanitarian operations. I do not think the Georgian government has signed such an agreement,” the expert said.

The analyst also believes that the opening of such centers might encourage possible aggression from Russian side to Georgia.

“We remember Russia very loudly referring to terrorism threats in Pankisi Gorge…the existence of such camps in Georgia may give Russia another provocative argument,” Khukhashvili added.