In March, a selected number of Georgian and Abkhaz experts and businesspeople – including one additional partner from South Ossetia – visited Cyprus to study the Greenline Regulations. These regulations facilitate economic relations across the divided island of Cyprus in the absence of a political solution to the conflict and were adopted in 2004.
The trip was part of International Alert’s Economy and Conflict project’s on-going work aimed at analysing the possibility of normalising economic relations across the Ingur/i river, the current conflict divide.
The visit’s agenda consisted of meetings with local and international institutions and practitioners engaged on the regulations, including the Greek and Turkish Cypriot Chambers of Commerce, foremost academics and experts, and representatives from the EU and UNDP.
Apart from studying the existing regulatory framework, the participants had the opportunity to explore the process leading to the adoption of these regulations and their implications for economic development, cooperation and confidence-building. Amongst others, they spoke with official negotiators, politicians, analysts and those conceived the regulations as well as the economic aspects of the Annan Plan, a UN proposal to solve the Cyprus conflict put forward by Kofi Annan in 2004.
While the differences in Cyprus and Georgia-Abkhazia contexts are obvious, the trip stimulated further ideas among legal experts, economists and representatives from business communities to continue discussing cross-divide economic relations in the South Caucasus.
During the next phase, the process will be engaging business communities on developing additional measures towards regulating cross-Ingur/i economic relations.
The trip was generously supported by the Conflict Pool of the British Government.