The Austrian OSCE Chairmanship expressed “concern” over the closure of two crossing points - Nabakevi-Khurcha and Meore Otobaia-Orsantia - between Abkhazia’s predominantly ethnic Georgian Gali district and its adjoining Zugdidi district of Samegrelo region.
“We have closely followed the latest developments on the ground. We believe this decision has a number of negative consequences, in particular concerning the freedom of movement of the population on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line,” the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship said in its statement on March 7.
“We therefore call for meaningful dialogue as well as swift and pragmatic solutions, in order to avoid further repercussions for the local population’s everyday life.”
The Chairmanship also emphasized the importance of the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meetings “as platforms for constructive engagement.”
The decision to close the crossing points, made on December 28 by authorities in Sokhumi, has raised concerns locally and internationally.
Residents of Nabakevi and surrounding villages in Gali district, who used the two crossing points to travel to the neighboring Zugdidi district for schooling, medical services and commercial activities, organized a protest rally against the decision on January 25.
A number of countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the United States, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and Japan, spoke against the planned closure stressing that it would restrict freedom of movement for locals, including schoolchildren and patients requiring medical treatment.