Business and Economic Centre has developed working relationships with the Parliamentary Commission on Restoration of Territorial Integrity Issues in response to their request to facilitate the dialogue among businesses and other stakeholders which could be interested in economic rehabilitation of the conflict zones. In November 2006, EPDI organised a Conference on Economic Rehabilitation of Conflict Zones, which took place in Gudauri and brought together the audience of legislators, policy makers, international organisations, companies, government representatives, NGOs and experts. The Conference has come up with the resolution (available upon request), which identified the further need for a broad consultative process and building the role of the Commission in the economic rehabilitation of conflict zones. Since the Conference the BEC supported follow up events and facilitated the dialogue among relevant stakeholders.

BEC set up a consultative platform for the Parliament drawing on experience of wide range of stakeholders and experts, such as International Organizations, Diplomatic Missions, Georgian business people active in conflict regions, representatives of the Temporary Administrative Unit of South Ossetia, several Ministries and most importantly the representatives of business and NGOs from Tskhinvali region (ethnic Ossetians).
The following working groups have been formed to provide an input into the decisions by the Parliamentary Commission:
•    “Legal” –  The objective of the group is to develop temporary rules to support the legalisation of current economic activity and implementation of economic projects
•    “Economic” – The group will study relevant economic factors and trends, identify the needs for development of strategic infrastructure and economic conditions.
•    “Civil Society” – To identify the range of projects which will support the successful implementation of the economic projects and which will facilitate cooperation between conflicting sides; the group will also work on information and publicity strategy of the project.
•    “Implementation” – on implementation mechanisms, structures, coordination and monitoring
•    “Security” – The group will aim at assessment of security situation and risk measurement.

A special logo was created by the project. Being printed on small stickers, this logo is borne by products originated from the conflict zones. This aims to strengthen the product credibility among the public and create an additional incentive for buying such a product. Consumers believe that by buying this particular product they personally contribute towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict. It is noteworthy that the exercise is equally about engaging the wide public and strengthening the willingness to peaceful resolution of conflicts in the society.

The project equally supported ‘cross boarder’ cooperation between Georgian and Ossetian entrepreneurs and support economic integration of war-torn communities. The role of BEC was to identify the products from conflict zones, ensure their quality and to manage brand for sales stimulation. BEC reached agreements with milk and meat producer companies which were planning to create products in Tskhinvali Region with the mentioned logo. BEC has achieved a participation in three international exhibitions where entrepreneurs from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region were invited.  In result of the exhibitions:
•    Entrepreneurs from Gali region were offered a deal for selling more than two tones of honey. It was agreed between them to continue future partnership;
•    After negotiations with the Temporary Administration of South Ossetia, Polish investors bought apple calvados as well as 15 tones of apple produced in the Tskhinvali region.
•    With the support of the BEC, entrepreneurs (ethnic Ossetians) from Tskhinvali region participated in the exhibition.  Their participation itself was a very important achievement, as the exhibition appeared to be a platform for sharing their ideas and experience with other business people from the rest of Ossetia, Georgia and the wider region. Such activities certainly contribute towards the confidence building and peaceful resolution of the conflicts.

BEC reached an agreement with the largest Georgian retailer “Populi” to supply its extensive network of department stores with several products from Tskhinvali region.

The preparatory phase of the project has been financially supported by the Irish Aid and the EPDI London’s limited contributions. The proposed has been discontinued due to the war in August 2008 but BEC is willing to contribute towards economic rehabilitation process by realizing the opportunities offered by improved regulatory framework and mechanisms which will add value to products and facilitate trade and economic development in the conflict regions.

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