Potential for Conflict Related to Land Problems in Georgia’s Marneuli and Gardabani Districts13.08.2012

Date: 2006    
Title: Potential for Conflict Related to Land Problems in Georgia’s Marneuli and Gardabani Districts 
Prepared by: German Organization for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development (Tbilisi) with the participation of the Union of Intercultural Cooperation in Kvemo Kartli Province (Gardabani) and the Union of Azerbaijani Women of Georgia (Marneuli)
Languages: EnglishGeorgianRussian 
Pages: 18 (English), 25 (Georgian), 22 (Russian)

The aim of this report is to analyse the potential for conflict related to land distribution problems in two administrative districts of Georgia – Marneuli and Gardabani. The two districts under study are part of Kvemo Kartli province and are located near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to the south of the city. Gardabani District borders Azerbaijan, while Marneuli District borders both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Marneuli District includes the Red Bridgecheckpoint on the Armenian and Azerbaijani border. 
Both districts are predominantly agricultural, with vegetables being the main produce. Potatoes play an especially big role. While we do not have specific data for the two districts under study, on the whole, in 2000 Kvemo Kartli province produced 126,000 tonnes of potatoes, which constituted 41.8 per cent of Georgia’s total potato production. In the same year, the province produced 25.4 per cent of all the vegetables grown in Georgia. 
Cattle breeding also plays an important role in local economics. Kvemo Kartli is home to 11 per cent of all the livestock in the country, with Gardabani and Marneuli Districts being the main producers of the livestock within the province. 
Manufacturing is much less developed in Marneuli and Gardabani, and the overall tendency is towards the further decline: in 2002, the overall volume of manufacturing in Gardabani District totalled only 41.3 per cent of the previous year’s output, and in Marneuli District the figure was 23.2 per cent. Economic activities increased seven per cent in Georgia as a whole throughout this period. 
The only exception to the mainly agricultural character of Gardabani-Marneuli is the Gardabani power plant, which produces much of the electricity Georgia consumes. For most Georgians, the town of Gardabani is primarily associated with the power plant. However, the importance of the plant in terms of employment has decreased. Local respondents noted that after several of its units were closed down and others privatized, the number of power plant employees decreased from 1,800 people to approximately 200. Since until recently the electricity system in Georgia was in crisis and, in particular, electricity distribution companies consistently failed to collect payments for power consumed, many of the remaining employees did not receive their salaries for months at a time. In the last two years, as important reforms and renovations were being implemented in the energy system, with both rates of production and collection of revenues improving, employment at the Gardabani power plant has again become more attractive. 
Nevertheless, the livelihood of the large majority of residents of both districts remains largely dependent on agriculture. Therefore, the reform of land ownership and the distribution of land are of paramount importance. There are several sets of concerns related to this issue in the region: (1) problems related to land privatization legislation, among them the introduction of special provisions for border regions such as Gardabani and Marneuli; (2) problems of land distribution, namely that of leases for large plots of land were given to a selected few, with most local peasants having to sub-let their plots from middle-men; (3) selling produce under conditions of stronger competition, the deterioration of road infrastructure and increases in transport expenses. 
This paper will examine these concerns from the perspective of the local stakeholders, analyse related conflict issues and discuss the best ways for the resolving them. It is based on research carried out by the German Organization for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development, a Georgian public policy research centre, in cooperation with the Union of Intercultural Cooperation in Kvemo Kartli Province (based in Gardabani) and the Union of Azerbaijani Women of Georgia (based in Marneuli). The initial research was carried out in the summer of 2003. It included stakeholder meetings on the local level, followed by a series of in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, media analyses and a quantitative study of local opinion. In 2005, after the Rose Revolution, the analysis was updated based on new stakeholder meetings and in-depth interviews with local experts. The report also includes feedback from local stakeholders to the draft version of the report.

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