The Georgian parliament approved on December 23 with its second hearing amendment to the law on repatriation of Meskhetians
envisaging the extension of deadline for submitting applications from potential returnees from January 1, 2009 to July 1, 2009.
MP Akaki Minashvili, the deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee for legal issues, told lawmakers during the discussions of the amendment that the major reason behind prolonging deadline was "politically overloaded year" – with two elections and then the August war – which, he said, failed to pay due attention to the repatriation procedures.
Gia Arsenishvili, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for human rights, specified that the process of submitting applications to the Georgian consulate in Russia by potential returnees could have been hindered with cutting of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Law on repatriation of Meskhetians - survivors or descendants of Muslim population who were deported by Joseph Stalin from southern Georgia in 1944. was approved by the Georgian Parliament in 2007.
According to the original law, potential returnees must apply at the nearest Georgian consulate or at the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation some time between January 1 and December 31, 2008.
MP Minashivli said that only 900 applications have been submitted so far.
The Parliament is expected to approve the amendment to the law with its third final hearing on December 26.
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Dec.'08 / 15:23