REPATRIATION ISSUES

On 15-17 of November, 1994, about 20 000 families from South Georgia, mainly from Meskhetian region were exiled in Central Asia by Former Soviet authorities according to the resolution N6279-cc of the State Defense Committee of USSR. As a result of further migration processes, nowadays, exiled persons and their descendants are residing in Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Ukraine and USA. Since late 1970-ies, Meskhetians started to arrive to Georgia as well and have been settled in the regions of Guria, Imereti, Shida Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti.

Georgia’s application for membership of the Council of Europe (PACE Opinion No. 209 (1999)) defines an obligation for Georgia to adopt a legal framework permitting repatriation and integration, including the right to Georgian nationality, for the Meskhetian population deported by the Soviet regime.

On 11 July 2007, the Law “On Repatriation of Persons forcefully sent into exile from the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia by the Former USSR in the 40’s of the 20th Century” was adopted. Via adoption the law, the opportunity for exiled persons and their descendants was created to apply to the State with the request of granting Repatriate status through submitting relevant documentation in accordance with the legal framework, which would lead to the opportunity for obtaining Georgian citizenship in a simplified manner. The law considers the principles of restoration of justice, voluntary and dignified return and gradual repatriation.

5841 applications have been submitted to the responsible authority during the timeframe defined by the law. In accordance with the principle of family unity, 1998 persons were granted Repatriate Status (the Status was granted to them who were adults by the moment of application; Adolescents included in the application were granted the status automatically).  

Repatriate Status holders are guaranteed with simplified procedures for obtaining Georgian citizenship, which does not entail requirements like the other foreigners established by the Georgian legislation.  On the grounds of respective legal instruments the person having the status of repatriate enjoys the right to apply to the responsible institution for Georgian citizenship within 2 years from granting the status. After the publication of the Decree on granting Conditional Georgian Citizenship, the person has to abandon the foreign citizenship within 5 years. Conditional citizenship has been granted to 494 Repatriate Status Holders – to all of them who applied for.

For the purposes of coordination of the activities of the state agencies and entities involved in the process of repatriation, in March 2011, the Government of Georgia established Interagency Governmental Council on the Repatriation of Persons forcefully sent into exile by the Former USSR in 1940-ies. Functions and tasks of the Council include coordination of activities of state agencies and entities involved in the process, proposing relevant initiatives and recommendations in the respect and promotion their implementation.

One more step towards fulfillment of the obligation was made on 12 September, 2014, by adopting the “State strategy of Repatriation of Persons forcefully sent into exile from the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia by the Former USSR in the 40’s of the 20th Century”, which formulates the state vision of the process of dignified and voluntary return of the persons with repatriate status and foster integration of repatriates in Georgian society.