The Winter Olympics in Sochi are shining a rare international spotlight on the Caucasus and the conflicts of the region. Despite an improvement in relations since 2012, Georgia and Russia remain at odds over the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On January 1 this year, Georgian State Minister Paata Zakareishvili, who is responsible for relations with both these territories, renamed the body he runs the Ministry for Reconciliation and Civil Equality.

Zakareishvili discussed the Georgian government’s new approach toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia and its strategy for the North Caucasus. Consecutive interpretation was provided. Carnegie’s Thomas de Waal moderated.

Paata Zakareishvili

Paata Zakareishvili is the Georgian state minister for reconciliation and civil equality. Zakareishvili is an expert in conflict resolution and has held senior-level positions in a variety of NGOs, government bodies, and academic organizations. He was a member of the executive board at Open Society Georgia, and was head of staff of the Parliament of Georgia’s Committee for National Minority Issues and Human Rights Protection. Most recently, he served as chairman of the Institute for the Study of Nationalism and Conflict.

Thomas de Waal

Thomas de Waal is a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, specializing primarily in the South Caucasus region comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia and their breakaway territories, as well as the wider Black Sea region. He is the author of The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010).