09TBILISI1517, GEORGIA: INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO ABKHAZIA AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1517 2009-08-10 08:49 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8517
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1517/01 2220849
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 100849Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2007
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001517 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS EAID SOCI AID GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO ABKHAZIA AND 
SOUTH OSSETIA 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  Immediately following the August 
2008 war between Russia and Georgia, our small USG aid 
programs in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were closed, with the 
exception of HALO Trust's demining program in Abkhazia. 
Other international donors, including the European Commission 
(EC), temporarily halted their programs, but resumed 
operations in Abkhazia after the security situation 
stabilized.  Due to continuing access obstacles and the 
precarious security situation in South Ossetia, ICRC remains 
the only international organization working there.  Numerous 
international organizations, however, continue to operate in 
Abkhazia and report that, even after the departure of UNOMIG, 
all remains "business as usual."  Despite the de facto Abkhaz 
authorities attempts to politicize international assistance, 
they need and want this aid, as well as the links to the 
international community that come with it.  After some 
blustering over semantics, the Abkhaz have eventually backed 
down and accepted western aid directed for Georgia which does 
not specify an independent Abkhazia.  The U.S. can look at 
programs operated by other international donors as possible 
models for any potential future U.S. assistance.  We will 
provide our thoughts septel in the coming weeks as to howthe 
USG might want to approach assistance programs in the 
occupied territories.  End summary and comment. 
 
NO ACCESS TO SOUTH OSSETIA MEANS NO MONEY 
 
2. (C) The South Ossetian de facto authorities refuse to 
allow international aid organizations entry into the region 
from the south through undisputed Georgia, effectively 
closing the region to international assistance.  Only ICRC 
continues to operate in South Ossetia by quietly managing 
their program through their office in Russia.  The unstable 
security situation in South Ossetia further deters aid 
organizations from resuming their activities.  The EC is 
currently considering funding several confidence building 
programs with South Ossetian communities with third country 
dialogue programs -- which would essentially avoid the access 
hurdles.  The EC is also planning to provide funding for 
confidence building activities via a local implementer to a 
school director in Alkhalgori, who is resident there and able 
to freely travel between the regions. 
 
INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE IN ABKHAZIA 
 
3. (C) According to UNHCR, their presence in Abkhazia 
includes a total of ten staff persons in Gali, four of whom 
are internationals; and two local staff in Sukhumi.  UNDP has 
six local staff in Sukhumi, and UNICEF and World Food Program 
(WFP) each have one local staff member in Sukhumi.  Based on 
anticipated 2009 funding from the EC, the UN development 
organizations plan to increase their presence in Sukhumi to a 
total of 15 persons, three of whom would be international 
staff members.  Other international NGOs present in both Gali 
and Sukhumi include Action Contre la Faim (ACF), 
Premiere-Urgence (PU), World Vision International (WVI), 
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Danish Refugee Council 
(DRC).  In Sukhumi, these organizations have a total of 51 
local and international staff; no numbers are available for 
Gali.  The HALO Trust, funded by the State Department and 
other international donors, has approximately 160 local 
staff, including both ethnic Georgians in Gali and ethnic 
Abkhaz in Sukhumi.  Expats with HALO Trust travel into 
QAbkhaz in Sukhumi.  Expats with HALO Trust travel into 
Abkhazia several times a year and in spite of the Abkhaz de 
facto authorities' allergy to Tbilisi-based diplomats, a 
mission poloff was recently permitted to visit Abkhazia as 
part of a HALO Trust delegation. 
 
EC FUNDING IN ABKHAZIA 
 
4. (U) The EC is currently providing over seven million Euros 
of funding for four types of projects in Abkhazia: 
income-generation, school attendance and dialogue, economic 
rehabilitation, and humanitarian aid and recovery. 
Income-generation projects include the development of 
agro-services and vocational and business skills, implemented 
by WVI and PU.  The DRC is implementing a project aimed at 
increasing attendance in primary schools.  The EC is funding 
a comprehensive set of economic rehabilitation programs in 
the conflict zone to improve living conditions for 
populations on both sides of the administrative boundary 
line, including improvement in basic services and public 
health, as well as improvements to the Enguri power plant. 
DRC and PU are both implementing shelter rehabilitation, food 
security and income generation assistance. 
 
5. (C) The EC is providing 15 million Euros for projects 
under their instrument for stability, a quick response 
 
TBILISI 00001517  002 OF 002 
 
 
mech
anism not subject to recipient country approval, which 
serves as a bridge between post-conflict and humanitarian 
aid.  Current projects under this umbrella deal with housing 
issues and civil society support on IDP issues.  The EC is 
finalizing the second phase of the instrument for stability, 
a total of 14 million Euros, which is aimed at mitigating 
consequences of the August 2008 conflict.  These activities 
will include confidence building and people-to-people 
contacts, civil society capacity building, and socio-housing 
support.  (Note: The EC instrument for stability is designed 
to be an immediate response fund.  It is an internal EC 
regulation which does not require host government approval; 
this funding could prove problematic in the future if the 
Georgians decided to raise concerns about how their spending 
may conflict with the Law on Occupied Territories.  End Note) 
 
OTHER INTERNATIONAL FUNDING 
 
6. (C) Some individual EU countries are also funding projects 
in Abkhazia.  The British Embassy is supporting several small 
peace and conflict resolution projects through International 
Alert and Conciliation Resources.  They are also hoping to 
fund some projects directly with local partners in Abkhazia 
in the future.  The Swiss Embassy has a soup kitchen and film 
festival project implemented via local NGOs. 
 
BUSINESS AS USUAL IN ABKHAZIA 
 
7. (C) The international organizations working in Abkhazia 
report that they have functional relationships with both the 
Georgian and de facto authorities.  However, de facto 
authorities and local implementers do politicize the EC's 
efforts, despite the EC's attempts to keep the dialogue 
focused on the actual assistance.  For example, the EC 
reported that local NGOs have threatened not to work with the 
EC over phrases in EC documentation such as "...in Georgia, 
including in South Ossetia and Abkhazia."  Eventually the 
local NGOs give in rather than give up the money. The 
international organizations do not generally experience 
access issues into or within Abkhazia.  However, UNHCR notes 
that while international staff and local staff based in 
Abkhazia can travel freely between undisputed Georgia and 
Abkhazia, local staff based in Zugdidi are prevented from 
doing so by Abkhaz de facto authorities.  The EC and UNHCR 
report that despite the Government of Georgia's ecouraging 
rhetoric regarding assistance to the regions, the GOG has not 
gone out of its way to help them.  Also, the implementing 
rules of the Law on Occupied Territories, about which the EC 
has serious concerns, has still not been finalized.  The EC 
anticipates the government will again raise the issue of the 
implementing rules in September. 
 
8. (C) One issue that the Government of Georgia may raise is 
the payment of salaries and reimbursement of expenses to 
local implementers in Abkhazia.  Currently, the EC provides 
these funds via direct bank transfer from an EC country into 
an Abkhaz bank, as do other international organizations, 
including the HALO Trust.  The Law on Occupied Territories 
raises questions about the legality of such actions. 
However, there is currently no viable alternative, and if the 
Georgians want these programs to continue, as they say they 
do, they may have to allow these types of practices.  So far 
the government has not designated any EU practices a 
violation of the Law on Occupied Territories, but some EU 
representative fear the government could undertake more 
Qrepresentative fear the government could undertake more 
vigorous oversight of the assistance this fall, when the EU 
expects to reopen the conversation about the still 
unfinalized decree implementing the Law. 
TEFFT

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