|Georgia's Citizenship-Free IDs|
|July 03, 2011|
By Giorgi Lomsadze
Imagine an identification document with no citizenship -- no country and no religion, too, as the late John Lennon would say. Georgia on July 1 voted to issue such “status-neutral” papers  for the residents of the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
This is not because Tbilisi had a sudden fit of cosmopolitanism and does not believe in national borders anymore. Quite the opposite. The government hopes that the IDs and their attached benefits will help nudge residents of the two separatist regions back into the Georgian fold.
Holders of the IDs “will be entitled to the same civil rights and social benefits” available to all Georgian citizens, as well as the ability to travel abroad, according to the Georgian government's Action Plan for Engagement.  Most residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia now can only travel abroad with Russian passports.
Officially, Tbilisi maintains that the de facto governments of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia are passive offshoots of Moscow. The ID proposal is seen as an attempt to bypass those power structures and reach out to the territories' residents themselves.
Mission impossible? Nearly 20 years have passed since both territories effectively parted ways with Tbilisi, and, with recognition from four countries (Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru) now under their belts, said power structures see little reason for anyone to carry around a Georgia-issued ID card with them.
"In Georgia, as in several other countries which support it, they pretend that there aren't any recognized states like South Ossetia and Abkhazia . . . " sniffed Yuri Dzitstsoity, South Ossetia's de facto deputy parliamentary speaker .
Addressing a separate topic, Abkhazia's de facto foreign ministry  on May 11 put it another way: "Georgia should admit that the pages of history cannot be turned back . . . "
2010 © Eurasianet
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