Saturday, 26 December 2009

Hitler calls on Georgians to win back Abkhazia‏

December 25, 2009 - by Kirill Kolodin (Tbilisi) - Izvestiya

The television channel “Sakartvelo” aired a remarkably creative video that, in theory at least, should entice young people to join the army. The video does not particularly have any distinguishing special effects; in it, some cheerful young men are heading from a recruiting station to the army headquarters. As they enter through the welcoming, swung-open doors, it seems to be the perfect place for a slogan such as: “Welcome to the army, son!” But instead, a quote by Adolf Hitler appears on television screens.

“We once and for all must understand that we will never be able to regain the lost territory with prayers, which have become a formality, nor with hopes in the League of Nations, but with the strength of our weapons. Adolf Hitler. 1932.” These subtitles are accompanied by a well-performed voiceover – perhaps to make it more convincing.Perhaps only the creators of the video know why the Fuhrer needed to be included in the propaganda campaign – especially since there is already an abundance of similar banal expressions that could be found in the repertoires of many politicians and military commanders. Thus, there was absolutely no need to include Hitler as the main “revenge expert.”

The misstep of the political strategists is clear. A television campaign was being created based on the approval of an official representative of Georgia’s Ministry of Defense and according to the example of the NATO countries. But it is hard to imagine that “in order to promote the military,” Americans, the English, the French and especially the Germans would use “Mein Kapf” or other classical writings of the Fuhrer.

It is not clear as to how long the scandalous clip has been on the air. The television company does not have a wide audience, despite the fact that it is broadcast over the entire country. In April 2007, Sakartvelo began cooperating with the military based on the “Law on State Procurement,” and began operating in September of the same year.

Prior to that, Channel 33, which broadcasts Sakartvelo, belonged to the opposition television company of Eduard Shevardnadze and Mikhail Saakashvili, 202. According to the latest available information, currently Sakartvelo is owned by Denal Union. In November 2009, the non-governmental organization Transparency International called the company “mysterious” in one of its reports.

While it is just a coincidence, Georgian activists of the Center for Human Rights posted the clip on their website – http://www.hridc.tv/ and http://humanrights.ge/ – almost immediately after the clip on the destruction of the Memorial of Glory in Kutaisi. The clip was posted on the eve of the Georgian government’s presentation of the “State Strategy in Relation to the Occupied Territories,” according to which Georgia’s leadership plans to resolve the Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts only thought peaceful means.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

UNPO - Abkhazia President Bagapsh Re-elected

Dec. 15 - UNPO welcomes the news that President Sergei V. Bagapsh of Abkhazia has been re-elected for a second term as initial exit polls released on Sunday (13th December) indicated that Mr Bagapsh had won approximately 60% of the popular vote.

It was estimated that the turnout for Saturday’s vote (12th December) was 73%. There were 174 polling stations within the thirty-five regions of Abkhazia and the election was overseen by the Abkhaz Central Election Commission (TsIK) chaired by Mr. Batal Tabagua. Mr. Bagapsh’s closest rival among four other candidates, Raul Khajimba, polled with 15.4 percent of the popular vote.

Mr Bagapsh has already served one term as president following the contentious 2004 election which was resolved through a power-sharing agreement. He resigned in November 2009, following constitutional rules, to stand in the 2009 presidential elections. The election result was decided by simple majority voting (SMV) in which the highest polling candidate had to obtain over 50% of votes to be elected as president. Since Mr. Bagapsh was able to exceed such a proportion, ruling out a second round of voting.

UNPO believes this result is another positive step in the democratic development of Abkhazia and the Caucasus region. Since joining UNPO in 1992 to campaign for greater self-determination and international recognition, Abkhazia has been actively engaged in supporting fellow UNPO members in their campaigns. The 2009 Presidential Election gives to the region a valuable example of democracy in action and to the international community a clear demonstration of Abkhazia’s commitment to democratic values.

Below is a copy of the letter of Congratulations sent to Sergey Bagapsh from UNPO General Secretary, Marino Busdachin

The Hague, 14 December 2009

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the membership of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) I would like to congratulate you on your re-election by the overwhelming majority of Abkhaz for another term in office as President of the Republic of Abkhazia.

UNPO followed the elections closely and welcomes what is another positive chapter in Abkhazia’s democratic development and consolidation. We believe the election and its result represents an important step for the whole Caucasus region and a vindication of the multi-vector foreign policy that you have pursued to benefit of Abkhazia over your past term in office.

It is almost two decades since Abkhazia joined the UNPO, and over the coming months we look forward to deepening the strong bonds that exist between Sukhum and UNPO members throughout the world. The UNPO therefore reaffirms its support to Abkhazia’s people and their right to self-determination and international recognition.

We stand ready to offer your office and the Republic of Abkhazia every possible support in the weeks leading to your inauguration and the years to follow.

Yours sincerely,

Marino Busdachin
General Secretary

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Jordan's Abkhaz diaspora representatives met with President elect Sergey Bagapsh

Dec. 14 - SUKHUM, ABKHAZIA - Today a group of the Abkhaz Diaspora of Jordan representatives met with the elected President Sergey Bagapsh.

They congratulated Bagapsha on re-election as Head of the Abkhaz state, and expressed satisfaction by the fact that the elections were of a democratic character and that their ethnic Motherland makes confident steps in its development.

Sergey Bagapsh and Jordan’s Diaspora representatives discussed questions of interaction, repatriation and provision of necessary facilities for Muhajirs’ descendants who have come back to the historical Motherland.

At the same time Bagapsh expressed hope that the Abkhaz Diaspora would be rendering a more confident assistance to the recognition of Abkhazia by other states.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Press-Conference of Head of Passport and Visa Service of the Internal Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia

December 6 - SUKHUM, ABKHAZIA - “90 percent of the republic’s residents have already received the passport of the citizen of the Republic of Abkhazia”, the chief of the Passport and Visa Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia Valery Malia said at a press conference in Sukhum.

According to him, 146 121 passports of the citizen of Abkhazia have been issued for today.

The basic document proving identity has been issued to representatives of all 85 nationalities living in Abkhazia. 73 622 of Abkhaz, 32 363 of Armenians, 17 795 of Russian, 12 156 of Georgians, 2 430 of Ukrainians, 1 500 of Greeks, 2 138 of Abazins are among those who have received passports.
The PVS head specified that 9 910 passports have been issued to the under-18 persons; the number of citizens who do not live in the republic and who have received the document without a residence permit makes 5 759.

Earlier the PVS had no proper office, owing to it, as a result of a technical incident, 8 620 forms of the document were damaged what was registered by a governmental commission, certified and they were deposited.

According to Valery Malia, 365 thousand passports in all have been printed.

An event owing to which the main document of the citizen of the republic was changed occurred in 2003. The ship that was conveying passports from Turkey was seized by Georgian coastguards and 25 thousand forms found themselves at the disposal of the Georgian authorities. “After that incident the leadership of Abkhazia took the decision to make some changes to the passport forms. In particular, if the first lot seized by the Georgian party, has the passport number printed in red, the subsequent lots were printed in dark blue. We also changed the type and made some differences in comparison with the seized lot”, V. Malia specified.

The Service head also said that valid passports samples the citizens of Abkhazia living beyond its bounds have the right to vote with at the presidential elections on December 12 had been sent to the Embassy of Abkhazia in the Russian Federation and the republic’s representative office in Cherkessk.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Abkhazia time-lapse film

Filming in Abkhazia, with 5DMII September - October 2009 Gagra, Mamdzisha


Abkhazia time-lapse film from Animi on Vimeo.

Camera
Sergey Yazvinsky (Director)
Viacheslav Ivanov

Assistants
Maria Sannikova
Nadejda Churumova

Music
Wayne Gratz
Michael Gettel
Craig Armstrong
Ludovico Einaudi

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Statement from the Press-Service for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia

December 3 - SUKHUM, ABKHAZIA

The visit of the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry delegation in the Latin American countries continues.

The delegation of Abkhazia took part in the opening ceremony of the Days of Russian Culture in Ecuador which was being held in the oldest university of Quito. The deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia Maxim Gvindzhia delivered a welcoming speech to the guests, stressing the importance of establishing relations between Abkhazia and Ecuador in all the spheres of the states’ modern life. The University of Ecuador is ready to admit students from Abkhazia and to develop cooperation with the Abkhaz State University.

On December 1 M. Gvindzhia had a meeting with the deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ecuador L. Arisago. The meeting was also attended by the director of the Europe Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador P. Villagomes. Gvindzhia told about historical prerequisites of independence of Abkhazia, the present situation in the republic and prospects of its development.

The Republic of Abkhazia’s official request to Ecuador about the recognition is considered very carefully, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador told Abkhaz diplomats. L. Arisago and M. Gvindzhia also discussed the questions of economic cooperation between the two countries.

On December 2 a meeting with the Vice Chairman of the Parliament of the Republic of Ecuador Mr. Pansana took place in Quito.

The Parliament of Ecuador has initiated development of inter-parliamentary cooperation, as well as establishment of relations between business circles of Abkhazia and Ecuador.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Peruvian opposition urges recognition of S.Ossetia, Abkhazia

November 19 - Peru's opposition party has submitted a proposal to the Peruvian Congress to recognize the former Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, the party leader has said.

Ollanta Humala told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that his Peruvian Nationalist Party, the country's second largest political group, submitted the proposal last week. It is currently holding talks with various political forces and parliamentary blocs to win their support.

"Peru is one of the countries that have officially recognized Kosovo as independent, and we believe Abkhazia and South Ossetia also deserve official recognition as two new republics," Humala said.

He said he could see no obstacles to the government's recognition of the republics.

"Now that it has recognized Kosovo [on February 25, 2008], it will not have weighty arguments against the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," Humala said.

Humala enjoys political popularity in Peru for his nationalist, anti-imperialist and anti-American ideas. He garnered 44.56% of the votes in the presidential polls in 2006.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have so far been recognized by Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Though the two asked Belarus to recognize their independence last year, Minsk has so far refused to join its neighbor, Russia in recognizing the republics.

Moscow recognized the two republics shortly after a five-day war with Georgia in August 2008 that began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Tagliavini Commission's Conclusions Have Taught The European Union A Lesson - EU Special Representative

November 10, 2009 - The report of the Tagliavini Fact-Finding Commission on the conflict in Georgia “has taught the European Union a lesson", the EU special representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby believes.

In his opinion, "the main service of the report is that it allows us to look in the future, not the past now". "This report has given a clearer conception of what has happened. And it makes the discussions and negotiations held in Geneva easier because some problems that have complicated the negotiations until now, disappeared. Besides, this report is important as it gives us a lesson for the future - how to avoid a similar situation", Semneby emphasized in an interview to the “Kommersant” published today.

The EU special representative stressed the results of the international investigation of the August, 2008 conflict had taught the European Union a lesson too. "The EU underestimated the risks, and we could, probably, do more for the conflict prevention. Perhaps, if we had had a more considerable presence in the region before the war, it would have played the role", he emphasized.

According to the results of the international investigation under the direction of Heidi Tagliavini published on September 30 in Brussels, the war in South Ossetia in 2008 was launched by Georgia. At the same time the report accuses Russia of giving out passports to the residents of South Ossetia, use of "excessive force" for the response to the Georgian aggression, as well as conflict escalation to the territory of Georgia beyond the bounds of South Ossetia.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Minsk to send commission on recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Caucasus region

MINSK, November 5 - Belarus plans to send a parliamentary commission to South Ossetia and Abkhazia to estimate a possibility of recognition of the two republics.

RIA Novosti informs about this referring to Syarhei Maskevich, the chairman of the International Affairs and CIS Relations Commission of the “house of representatives” of the “national assembly” of Belarus.

According to him, the commission consisting of ten MPs is to visit Tskhinval and Sukhum as well as Tbilisi.

As Maskevich explained, the Belarusian MPs and senators would study the situation to decide on whether Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be recognized.

The MPs would like to talk with the leadership of the republics and with ordinary people.

The Belarusian “parliament” is expected to study this opportunity next week.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka said earlier that “for moral reason”, Belarus should have supported Russia in recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia long ago, but couldn’t do this due to the pressure of the Russia media.

According to the president, some forces in Russia wanted Belarus to bow. “The mass media started a real targeting of us,” the Belarusian leader said on October 2.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been recognized only by Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Abkhazia: Finding the Balance in New Relationships

Abkhazia tries to find new balance between independence and strategic cooperation with Russia as its democracy matures.

Below is article published by RIA Novosti - 2 Nov. 2009

The upcoming December 12 [2009] presidential elections in Abkhazia are fundamentally different from the previous three - the campaign will be the first since the beginning of the process of recognition of Abkhazian independence, writes political analyst Sergei Markedonov.

Regardless of the new South Caucasian status quo, the elections will seriously test the intentions of the partially recognized republic's elite to build up its statehood in line with its real potential.

With Moscow's recognition of its independence in August last year [2008], Abkhazia crossed an extremely important boundary.

Georgian claims to "restore territorial integrity" have ceased to be an important political issue for the Abkhazian elite. The national elite now aims to fill Abkhazian independence with genuine substance and higher quality. In the final analysis, the struggle against the "little empire" was not launched in the 1990s to replace one patron with another.

Abkhazia possesses the necessary potential. Unlike South Ossetia, the republic has a state project, rather than just "aspirations for unification." Abkhazia boasts a far more intricate domestic political space and an opposition (inside the republic, rather than in Moscow), an independent media, five years' experience of normal co-existence between those winning and losing presidential elections, and a diversified foreign policy.

However, Abkhazia's one-sided political dependence on Russia has increased. Russia is no longer a peacekeeper, but rather a guarantor of national self-determination and the main contributor of funding to the republic's budget.

It would be appropriate to note that the new "guarantor" does not favor democracy, political competition or unauthorized contacts with the outside world very much.

Markedonov concludes that the Abkhazian elite will have to solve an extremely difficult puzzle: how to assert its independence while maintaining strategic cooperation with Moscow.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Recognition of Independence

October 30, 2009 - SUKHUM, ABKHAZIA - Abkhazia intends to make an official request to Ecuador to recognize its independence, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic Sergey Shamba said. “It will happen in the nearest future as soon as the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa returns to the country, he will meet with the representative of Abkhazia who will hand him over a request from the President of our state Sergey Bagapsh to consider the question of the recognition of independence of Abkhazia”, the head of the state’s foreign policy department said.

The President of Ecuador said in an interview on Friday “if both the republics produce an official request to Ecuador for their recognition, we will consider this request most seriously”.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Abkhazia: Bagapsh to run for presidency

SUKHUM, October 27 (Itar-Tass) - The United Abkhazia Party held a congress on Tuesday, which nominated Sergei Bagapsh, the incumbent president of the republic, as its presidential candidate for the coming elections.

Daur Tarba, president of the United Abkhazia Party, said on Monday that “we have supported and continue to support Sergei Bagapsh, our president, since the emergence of our movement, later transformed into a party. The city conference of the Party decided to nominate him as a presidential candidate.” He added, however, that United Abkhazia would not nominate a vice president. This is the right of the presidential candidate, and “we shall support the candidate to the post, whom Bagapsh will name.”

Presidential elections will be held in Abkhazia on December 12. The nomination of candidates began on October 13 and will end on November 2.

The opposition Abkhazian Economic Development Party nominated its leader, Beslan Butba, as presidential candidate on October 23.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Issues Points Memo for South Ossetia & Abkhazia‏

  • Nicolai N. Petro, Professor of Political Science, University of Rhode Island - “…it seems breathtakingly cynical to recognize the Tbilisi regime's jurisdiction over a population to whom it had denied the basic benefits of Georgian citizenship, then punished with an embargo for having accepted Russian citizenship to survive, and finally, assaulted militarily during the night of 7/8 August 2008…” http://www.opednews.com/articles/What-the-Tagliavini-Report-by-Nicolai-N-Petro-091002-478.html

  • Charles King, Chair of the Faculty and a Professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, writing in Foreign Affairs - “…In the case of Abkhazia and South Ossetia before August 2008, however, Western governments unquestionably adopted Georgia’s position in these disputes, making little effort to see things in more nuanced, multifaceted ways; this approach helped push the Saakashvili government into believing that it could claw back South Ossetia in a quick war…” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65469/charles-king/clarity-in-the-caucasus

  • Doug Bandow, the Cato Institute - “…Washington’s support for the Georgian government probably encouraged Saakashvili to attempt the military conquest of South Ossetia, which had seceded with Russia’s assistance. After all, you are likely to take far greater risks if you believe the U.S. has your back. And, if he was willing to start a war in expectation of U.S. military support against Moscow outside NATO, imagine what he would do with his nation as a member of NATO…” http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/10/01/what-to-do-when-your-ally-is-the-aggressor

  • Jörg Himmelreich, senior trans-Atlantic fellow, George Marshall Fund - “…A rethinking of U.S. diplomacy toward Georgia is urgently needed…” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/03/opinion/03iht-edhimmelreich.html

  • Jeremy Drucker, Editor-in-Chief, Transistions Online, writing in International Relations and Security Network - “…public confirmation by an independent committee that Georgia has officially misrepresented its war-time actions might be just what those bureaucrats in the US State Department need to humble the notoriously arrogant Saakashvili — and yet another reason for giving Georgia a more modest (and appropriate) place in US foreign policy and not the centerpiece prominence it once had…” http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?lng=en&id=108423

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Clinton calls “the Georgian, South Ossetian and the Abkhaz parties to stop any provocations against each other

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls “the Georgian, South Ossetian and the Abkhaz parties to stop any provocations against each other". She said it at the meeting with students and lecturers of the M. V. Lomonosov’s Moscow State University.

"The diplomatic settlement of the conflict in order to avoid military operations should be the primary purpose. The permanent presence of monitors and peacekeeping forces is important to avoid any reason for further bloodshed", Clinton stressed.

The US Secretary of State reminded that the day before at the meeting with Sergey Lavrov "we discussed the issue of creating a buffer zone of the UN and the OSCE monitors at the border of Georgia with Abkhazia and South Ossetia".

"It is very important to have peacekeepers and observers there on a permanent basis”, she said. ”We have different views on the issue, and therefore it must be discussed, including within the frameworks of the Russia-NATO Council.

"It’s necessary to try to find the way out of the conflict situation in any possible way, not to stop Russia-NATO dialog, and at the same time try to solve other international problems, like Nagorno-Karabakh conflict".

We Italians are everywhere and forever with Abkhazia

















''Noi Italiani siamo d'appertutto e per sempre con l'Abkhazia''

''We Italians are everywhere and forever with Abkhazia.''

Circassian Day in Europe. 5 October 2009, Brussels
















    Wednesday, 14 October 2009

    Clarity in the Caucasus? The Facts and Future of the 2008 Russian-Georgian War, by Charles King

    Foreign Affairs - 11 October 2009
    Summary -- The recent EU report on the 2008 Russia-Georgia War confirms that both Georgia and Russia acted irresponsibly before and during the war. But it misses an opportunity to outline how the long-running territorial disputes of the Caucasus might be best resolved.

    CHARLES KING is Chair of the Faculty and a Professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. His most recent book is The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus.

    Few people believed that the fact-finding investigation into the 2008 Russia-Georgia war by the European Union -- which released its final report on September 30 -- would reveal new facts. But the report does confirm that Georgia acted irresponsibly in attempting to reconquer the secessionist region of South Ossetia by force, and that Russia acted irresponsibly in militarily intervening to prevent Georgia from overrunning South Ossetian militias and Russian peacekeepers. Yet in declaring a plague on all the houses involved in the five-day war, the EU report misses an opportunity to outline how the long-running territorial disputes of the Caucasus might be best resolved.

    In the sweltering August of last year, as Russian tanks headed into Georgia and Georgian forces retreated in municipal buses and old Zhiguli automobiles, the EU emerged as the critical broker in trying to halt the violence. When the smoke cleared, part of the EU’s plan for reconciliation was to charge a high-level working group with investigating the origins and conduct of the war. All sides justified their actions in terms of international law, with Georgia arguing that it acted to prevent violent secession, and Russia arguing that it was protecting ethnic Ossetians and Russian peacekeepers from indiscriminate, even genocidal, attacks. The working group -- formally established in December 2008 and chaired by Heidi Tagliavini, a senior Swiss diplomat with experience in the Caucasus -- was to judge these claims.

    Over the spring and summer of 2009, the mission’s members solicited expert analysis, conducted interviews, and received thousands of pages of official documents from Russians, Georgians, South Ossetians, and Abkhaz. The resulting report, which is three volumes and runs more than 1,000 pages, is the first of its kind in EU history. Historians will consider it a major resource, on par with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s famous 1913 report on the origins of the Balkan wars.

    Predictably, all sides have interpreted the document according to self-interest. The Russian government and press highlight the portions that blame Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for his attack on South Ossetia, including the targeting of civilian areas in the regional capital, Tskhinvali. Georgians and their supporters point to the passages that condemn Russia’s illegal intervention and its quick recognition -- with no international support, except from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez -- of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    But in rushing to read their own interests into the report, the various sides in the conflict missed some of its central findings. The EU mission found little support for two of Georgia’s main arguments about the origins of the war: that Georgia was justified under international law in using military force to repel attacks on Georgian villages by South Ossetian militias, and that Georgia was simply responding to a preplanned Russian invasion force, which was already on Georgian soil when the fighting began. Contra these claims, the report concludes that the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali (especially the use of multiple rocket-launcher systems) had no legal justification, and that “there was no ongoing armed attack by Russia before the start of the Georgian operation.” As I wrote in Foreign Affairs last year, Georgia’s precipitous decision to bring South Ossetia to heel upset a status quo that, while messy and imperfect, had allowed some degree of stability in the region for more than a decade.

    Russia, meanwhile, might have had some justification for protecting its peacekeepers in South Ossetia, but any military action beyond that was deemed unjustified and disproportionate. And South Ossetian and Russian claims that Georgia was perpetrating or preparing a “genocide” against ethnic Ossetians and Russian citizens were, according to the EU report, unsubstantiated. The report also notes that Russia’s claim to have been conducting a “humanitarian intervention” to protect South Ossetians was odd, given that Russia was a consistent opponent of humanitarian interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s.

    The EU mission’s most surprising conclusion is that the South Ossetian military, in responding to Georgian attacks, “did conform to international law in terms of legitimate self-defense.” This statement equates South Ossetia’s legal status with that of both Russia and Georgia, since it does not distinguish the South Ossetian irregulars’ use of force from that of the Russian and Georgian militaries. This will come as a surprise not only to Georgia but to any country -- including Russia -- facing an armed secessionist movement. Moreover, it glosses over the question at the heart of the conflict: What is the legal status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are recognized by Russia as de jure independent, treated by the international community as at least semisovereign, and considered by Georgians to be their own territory?

    Though it dodges this important issue, the report does represent one glimmer of hope in the Georgian mess: for all the potential horrors of the Russia-Georgia war -- including campaign-season rhetoric from the United States that characterized Georgia’s violent summer as another Prague Spring -- its outcome is now reasonably clear. There is little stomach in Brussels or Washington for trying to roll back the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or for making Russia’s troop presence there a central issue in relations with Moscow. With other matters at stake, from strategic arms control to a nuclear Iran, the status of these two provinces will not return to the political agenda anytime soon. The precipitous drive to bring Georgia (and Ukraine) into NATO has lost some of its steam, and so NATO can now engage in a more dispassionate assessment of potential members’ capabilities and real significance in Euro-Atlantic security.

    Another outcome of the war is that it could actually clarify -- at least in de facto terms -- the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where territorial disputes have festered for years. To be sure, this would require many parties to alter their behavior. Russia would have to act as a responsible player in the Caucasus, not as an old imperial overlord refusing to consider Georgia (and Azerbaijan and Armenia) as sovereign states. Georgia, for its part, would have to deal with the Abkhaz and South Ossetians as neighbors, not as troublesome squatters on ancient Georgian lands. And the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia would have to start behaving as legitimate, responsible politicians, not as authoritarian mafiosi. Although these shifts are hard to imagine, they are possible -- and would be a great boon to the international system.

    The international community has correctly treated many territorial disputes, from Kosovo to East Timor, as open-ended affairs, keeping independence, shared sovereignty, and other creative forms of governance fully on the table as potential outcomes. In the case of Abkhazia and South Ossetia before August 2008, however, Western governments unquestionably adopted Georgia’s position in these disputes, making little effort to see things in more nuanced, multifaceted ways; this approach helped push the Saakashvili government into believing that it could claw back South Ossetia in a quick war. If the EU’s recent report is the beginning of a more creative policy toward such conflicts, it will have done much more than merely shed light on the murky origins of a five-day war.

    Sunday, 11 October 2009

    Semneby met with KAFFED (Federation of Caucasian Associations in Turkey)

    Circassian World - European Union Special Representative for South Caucasus Peter Semneby visited the KAFFED (Federation of Caucasian Associations) on October 8, 2009.

    With the request of Delegation of the European Commission of Turkey the followings attended the meeting: Peter Semneby - The European Commission's Special Representative and Mark Fawcett Team Coordinator and Policy Advisor, Counselor Diego Mellado the European Commission Delegation to Turkey's Political and Press Department President, Helena Storm First Secretary of Embassy of Sweden, Cihan Candemir Chairman of Federation of Caucasian Associations, Erol Taymaz Vice President and Cumhur Bal General Coordinator.

    At the meeting Adyghe-Abkhaz diaspora and the positions of the relations with Abkhazia, the embargo against Abkhazia, visa problems that citizens face with, the policy of European Union's to Abkhazia, demands of Diaspora and return subject, the status of refugees in Abkhazia and democratic developments in Turkey had been discussed interactively. The meeting was so effective and closed by plannig to continue similar ones and negotiations in coming days.

    KAFFED is the largest and most influential North Caucasian umbrella organization of 58 active Caucasian associations in Turkey. KAFFED is a member of the International Circassian Association.

    Friday, 9 October 2009

    Maxim Gvindzhia believes “broadcasting of Radio Liberty in the territory of Abkhazia unacceptable should it propagate Georgian values”.

    07/10/2009 ABKHAZIA, SUKHUM
    The deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia Maxim Gvindzhia believes “broadcasting of Radio Liberty in the territory of Abkhazia unacceptable should it propagate Georgian values”.

    “If this radio gives objective trustworthy information, then we are not against its broadcasting in the territory of Abkhazia. But if it is a mouthpiece of the Georgian propaganda and poses threat to our national interests, we will speak with the Radio Liberty’s management about expediency of its broadcasting here, and act according to our legislation”, Gvindzhia told Apsnypress.

    According to the information the deputy Minister has, “this radio will propagate Georgian values”.

    “Our population has high self-consciousness and Georgian values are evident for us. And they have become more evident after Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia in August, 2008”, Gvindzhia said. “If Radio Liberty considers Georgia after what has happened as an inviting country for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, we will consider this radio as one of the elements of Progeorgian propaganda”.

    According to ITAR-TASS, the Radio Liberty radio station under control of the US authorities intends to start boadcasting in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a month. Its representative Martins Zvaners told ITAR-TASS, an everyday 1-hour program in Russian should start to go on the air on November 2.

    The Radio Liberty headquarters in Prague decided Georgian and Russian editorial offices will prepare the program. “Journalists from all around the region - Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia and Russia” will be involved", Zvaners said.

    *****

    Sergey Shamba: ''I Stand for Expansion of the Freedom of Speech; The Main Point is That It Should Have Nothing To Do With Georgia In Any Way''

    Last week managers of Radio Liberty sent an official letter to the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia, in which proposed to open a representative office of the radio station in the republic, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia Sergey Shamba told Apsnypress. “I said that it should not be a Georgian project. They convinced me that this is a South-Caucasian project, and I gave my consent to opening their representative office in Abkhazia”, Shamba said. The head of the MFA emphasized he stands "for expansion of the freedom of speech; the main point is that it should have nothing to do with Georgia in any way".

    According to him, the radio station has announced a contest among local journalists who specialize on Abkhaz and South-Ossetian topics. Three Abkhaz radio journalists will participate in the contest.

    "Our group is going to Prague for taking part in the selection; and we'll see there, whether we should agree and on what conditions", the head of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs added.

    Wednesday, 7 October 2009

    Statement from the Department of Governmental Information And Mass Media to the President of the Republic of Abkhazia

    06/10/2009 17:00 ABKHAZIA, SUKHUM - Today the President of the Republic of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh received the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark Per Stig Moeller.

    A frank dialogue about the developed new realities in Transcaucasia, the situation in Abkhazia took place. The parties discussed some question of humanitarian sphere, possible cooperation of Abkhazia with European organizations, prospects of the European observer mission in the zones of confrontation.

    The President stressed, there is no need for the observer mission to be in Abkhazia as the republic does not pose any threat for the neighboring countries.

    The head of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Denmark mentioned the European Union does not intend to discuss the republic’s status. The President expressed solidarity with him about this question as Abkhazia proceeds from the fact that its independence is recognized, and it does not intend to discuss anything else with anybody.

    In spite of the fact that some Mr. Moeller’s statements are absolutely unacceptable, the Abkhaz party has once again confirmed to the guests readiness to discuss questions of direct cooperation with European organizations in case its state interests are observed.

    US radio mouthpiece to launch programs for Akbkhazia, S Ossetia

    WASHINGTON, October 7 (Itar-Tass) – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a broadcasting organization sponsored by the U.S. Administration, plans launching programs for the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia, Martins Zvaners, the associate director for communications of the Prague-based station told Itar-Tass in Washington.

    A 60-minutes-long daily program targeted at the two former regions of Georgia is due to go on the air as of November 2. It will be co-produced by the Russian and Georgian boards of the station in Prague.

    According to Zvaners, RFE/RL plans to attract reporters from Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia, and Russia to providing stories for the broadcasts.

    Earlier, an Internet portal in Prague said RFE/RL staff member Andrei Babitsky, who has made his name notorious in the past by interviewing the terrorist Shamil Basayev, will coordinate the new program.

    Zvaners confirmed on his part that Babitsky has a position in this program but it is an open question yet whether he will chair the whole project.

    Zvaners also claimed that the broadcasts for Abkhazia and South Ossetia will have a classical format consisting of newscasts with account of the listeners’ interests.

    The objective of this programming is reconciliation and the bridging of different viewpoints expressed by the parties to the processes that are unfolding in the region, the executive claimed.

    Doubts over the latter postulation arise, however, from the fact that the stance of the U.S. Administration of the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains one-sided and prejudiced.

    The new project per se testifies to the validity of apprehensions about its nature.

    Following the end of the Cold War and the loss of the previous ideological platform of their existence, U.S. propaganda mouthpieces have been waging a fight for survival, which means the preserving of budget allocations.

    This prompts RFE/RL and other “radio voices” to seek out hotbeds of tensions in the post-Soviet space where the White House might need the application of their efforts.

    The slogan waved in these situations suggests that the target audiences in “strained” areas thus get information free from censorship although, quite naturally, all the reporting reflects the U.S. position to a big degree.

    Monday, 5 October 2009

    The Document On The Non-Use of Force Against Each Other Should Be Signed By The Conflict Sides - Sergey Shamba

    3 October 2009 - SUKHUM, ABKHAZIA

    Abkhazia and Georgia have repeatedly approached to the signing of agreements guaranteeing security and stability in the region, but every time, Georgia refused to sign these documents in the end, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia Sergey Shamba said today at a news conference in Sukhum.

    Now, according to him, this process goes on within the frameworks of the Geneva discussions. “Frankly, I’m not optimistic for the time being, but we’ll see how this process will develop further”, the head of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia said.

    According to him, “it is proposed to create a document which actually Russia and Georgia, not Abkhazia and Georgia should sign”. “In fact the conflict sides should sign the document”, Shamba said. “However the Georgian side and those who supports it do not share this conception. They don’t want to sign such a document with Abkhazia since they believe it will give us legitimacy”.

    “Since there is no such a wish, we will search for new possibilities”, Shamba added.

    “In the spring of 2008 Mr. Alasania and I have approached to the signing of such a document, of what is often written in the press. To that document the President of the Russian Federation as the guarantor should have also put the signature”, Shamba said.

    The head of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs called Mr. Alasania’s coments in mass-media that “Russia and Saakashvili were against such an agreement” not representing the facts. “It does not represent the truth at all, because Russia was just very interested in signing this agreement. Since then and till now Russia has insisted on the necessity of signing the Agreement on the no-use of force against each other”, Shamba said.

    Akhra Started Active Work

    Circassian World - September 27, 1993, Sukhum, the capital of Abkhazia, was freed from Georgian troops. This directly involved Caucasian volunteers. In particular, the man who hoisted the flag over the Abkhazian Government House was a Kabardian Volunteer - Aslan Abayev.

    On the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the liberation of Sukhum, there was a solemn procession in the city. Members of the Adyghe Khase, Republic of Abkhazia (Akhra), together with a delegation from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR), gathered in the square at the front of the Memorial of Glory, laid wreaths of flowers in honour of the victims of the Abkhazian Patriotic War of 1992-93. At the memorial (in the form of a dagger) were written the names of all those who gave their lives for the freedom of Abkhazia. Among these heroes were the names of the Adyghe volunteers. After laying flowers, the chairman of Akhra, Aslan Beshtoev, and the leader of Social Movement "Khase", Ibrahim Yaganov, congratulated the Abkhazian people in honour of the holiday.

    On 26th of September there was held a regular meeting of the Council (Akhra) at the Research Institute of Abkhazia. On the agenda were the following questions:

    1. Report of the Chairman of the Khase Board on performance;

    2. Report of the Head of the youth wing on the work done;

    3. Admission of new members in Akhra;

    4. Participation of Akhra in the celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of Sukhum;

    5. The question of joining the ICA (International Circassian Association)

    6. Other matters.

    President of Akhra, Aslan Beshtoev, in his report gave an account for of all the tasks that were set before him at the founding meeting. These were the questions pertaining to the registration of Akhra in the manner prescribed by law. He showed the certificate of registration displaying the printed letterhead of the organization. "Now we can legally and legitimately carry out our activities on the territory of Abkhazia" - he said.

    Astemir Sheriev, head of the youth-wing of Akhra, made a report on its work. In particular, he provided a report on his participation in the Forum Cherkessia Youth, held in Cherkessk on September 12. After reading out the main points of the resolution adopted at the Forum, he assured those present that the Abkhaz Khase supports the Circassian youth movement in the Caucasus and will actively participate in the implementation of the resolution.

    Aslan Beshtoev reminded the meeting that the next Congress of ICA is approaching, and he suggested membership for Akhra in this organization. The proposal was supported unanimously. In this connection, all documents required for entry have been prepared and submitted for consideration to the Executive Committee of ICA. "The decision will be taken at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the 2nd October. There is no reason to accept us there"- said Beshtoev.

    In a continuation of the meeting, the issue of repatriation of the Abkhaz-Adyghe to their historical homeland was raised. Beshtoev read the bill on the repatriation of the Russian Federation, which was adopted by the State Duma at its first reading. For him, any Circassian (Kabardian, Adyghe, Abazin) can freely return to their home country and obtain citizenship. But one of the participants in the meeting noted that there may be a problem in the bill relating to the documentary evidence belonging to the expelled citizens of Russia Empire. "If this bill is adopted, in countries where Circassians have to get a document proving that they are Circassians descended from people expelled from the Russian Empire this could prove very problematic. This problem will be addressed in the countries of residence of the Circassian Diaspora "- said Zaur Hog.

    The meeting also adopted a written greeting to the people of Abkhazia and to all who took part in its liberation from the Georgian aggressors. The text of congratulations reads in full:

    "The Adyghe Khase, Republic of Abkhazia, congratulates the people of Abkhazia and all the volunteers who participated in the war of 1992-93, on the day of victory. During those difficult years, the entire Circassian (Adyghe) nation felt the pain of the fraternal Abkhazian people and by all available methods became involved in their liberation from occupation and aggression. Volunteers from the North Caucasian republics came in hundreds to Abkhazia to participate in the war. Their actions demostrated the loyalty and brotherhood between our peoples in all situations. We, as then, are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers whatever is necessary in the name of freedom. We express our deep conviction that in the near future the statehood of the Republic of Abkhazia will be recognized by the world. The Abkhaz people deserve the right to defend their freedom by force of arms."

    Council of Adyghe Khase Republic of Abkhazia

    Friday, 2 October 2009

    International Alert: Dialogue on security guarantees in the context of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict

    Author(s): International Alert

    Date of Publication: 2009-09

    Publisher: International Alert

    Published: London

    Languages: English and Russian

    No. pages: 44

    ISBN: 978-1-906677-46-6

    This paper presents the separate analyses of both Georgian and Abkhaz civil society experts on the need for security guarantees, the reasons why the sides have been unable to agree on them as well as barriers and opportunities for future agreements. In itself, the document reflects the achievement of Alert’s long-term engagement as a facilitator of dialogue between Georgian and Abkhaz civil society leaders. It reflects an advance in the dialogue process while contributing to the debate around security guarantees.

    This publication is an attempt to present a new analytical framework for dialogue to stimulate communication and debate across the conflict divide. It should be of equal interest to Georgian and Abkhaz societies, hopefully bringing the perspective of the other side into internal debates, while helping international actors with an interest in peaceful resolution of the conflict to understand Georgian & Abkhaz perspectives better.

    Wednesday, 30 September 2009

    Statement from President Sergei Bagapsh in response to EU war report findings‏

    STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT SERGEI BAGAPSH ON THE RELEASE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION REPORT ON THE 2008 GEORGIA WAR

    “The time for debate is over. A nine-month investigation by the European Union has confirmed that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili broke international law when he launched his military attack on South Ossetia on August 7, 2008. It is time for the West to build policies based on this truth, rather than Georgia’s falsehoods.

    “Saakashvili’s reckless and hostile behavior towards South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which continues to this day, has changed the political landscape forever. Abkhazia is an independent nation and will never again return to Georgian rule.

    “I hope the EU report will open the eyes, ears, and minds of freedom-loving people everywhere to the truth: President Saakashvili is responsible for the August war and the humanitarian crisis it unleashed. If the West is serious about promoting peace in our region, it will push Georgia to sign and adhere to a non-violence pact instead of providing Tbilisi with arms, military training, and billions in aid.

    “Abkhazia is building its future as an independent, responsible member of the global community. We urge Europe and the United States to reevaluate their misguided policies to our region based on the incontrovertible facts.”

    - Sergei Bagapsh, President, The Republic of Abkhazia

    The text in PDF can be downloaded by
    clicking here (28.8 Kb)

    Interview with Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba

    The following Issues Points interview was conducted by Saylor Company with His Excellency Sergei Shamba, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Abkhazia.

    IP: Minister Shamba, do you see other nations joining Nicaragua, Russia, South Ossetia, and Venezuela in recognizing Abkhazia as in independent state?

    Shamba: We welcome any who do so. We understand that we need to earn recognition, and we are moving forward with an array of nation building programs that will enhance our international standing. But to get to essence of your question, we know some nations are hesitant to recognize us because of their relations with Georgia. We respect their caution. Nevertheless, I say to those nations that the Abkhaz people do not want be part of Georgia ever again. We are a free and independent nation, and other governments should judge us on those criteria, not whether Georgia may be angry with them if they recognize us.

    IP: Many around the world feel that Abkhazia is not free and independent, rather it is a satellite of Russia. How do you respond?

    Shamba: We definitely have a strong relationship with Russia, with whom we have extensive economic, political and cultural ties. Russia's leaders are helping us economically and protecting us from further Georgia aggression. We are also establishing diplomatic relations with Nicaragua and Venezuela, and of course, we are very close to South Ossetia. With those government-to-government relationships will come economic and cultural cooperation. As more nations recognize Abkhazia, we will expand our relations with them as well. As this network expands, we will be able to contribute even more to the global community and create more opportunities for our people.

    IP: Do you think there will be further war between Abkhazia and Georgia?

    Shamba: That is completely up to President Saakashvili. Abkhazians do not want war. We have never attacked Georgia, which has attacked us four times in the last ten years. We want to be responsible members of the international community. President Saakashvili claims he wants Georgia to be a respected member of the international community too. Under that logic, Georgia and Abkhazia share the same goal for our countries. However, neither of us can attain it through violence. As I mentioned, Abkhazia is not and never will be part of Georgia. President Saakashvili should acknowledge that and move on. Both of our countries need to flourish in progress, not languish in tension.

    IP: That is a reasonable statement, Minister Shamba, yet your country sometimes seems to fuel the flames of tension with Georgia. For example, the positions your country has taken regarding Georgia's confiscation of vessels heading for Abkhazia in the Black Sea. Some might say those positions are unnecessarily provocative.

    Shamba: Look, it is President Saakashvili who has triggered unnecessary tension in the Black Sea through his recklessness. He knows that seizing ships bringing essential goods to our citizens is counterproductive to stability in this region. He knows that we cannot simply sit by and let him run roughshod over the well-being of our citizens. I suggest you talk to the Georgian president about unnecessary provocation. Abkhazians are working towards a positive future. We actually do not have time to provoke our neighbors. We would rather not have to deal with such nonsense, but we will not allow President Saakashvili to divert us from our mission.

    IP: Do you seriously expect President Saakashvili to simply acknowledge that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are independent from Georgia and not try to administer Georgian law in both?

    Shamba: In reality, I don't see that he has any choice. It is time for President Saakashvili to recognize that fact and demonstrate genuine leadership by renouncing violence as a means to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and turning his attention to the real needs of the Georgian people. How can he be serious about bringing peace and economic prosperity to the region, when he is spending most of his resources and energies on expanding his army and threatening his neighbors?

    IP: And you don't see that position as politically naïve?

    Shamba: I do not. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that Abkhazia does not see tremendous challenges in its relations with Georgia for some time to come. But one day, there will be many more countries that recognize us as an independent country. While at the moment, President Saakashvili has dominated the debate over the future of the Caucasus through a vigorous misinformation campaign, he will not be able to do so forever. If he were as astute as he wants the world to believe, he would recognize that and respond responsibly. That does not mean he has to embrace us, but it will not serve Georgia's long-range interests for him to completely reject and attack us, either.

    IP: Based on what we just saw at the seventh round of talks in Geneva, it doesn't seem that President Saakashvili agrees with you now, nor will he in the near future. Do you see it that way?

    Shamba: Abkhazia will persevere. Sooner or later, Georgia, and its supporters, will recognize that the path to peace in the region will not be achieved by violence and isolation. We are working hard to prepare our country, and our people, for that day. We are confident that history will prove us right. It is up to Georgia, and its leaders, to decide whether they want to be on the right, or wrong, side of that history.

    Tuesday, 29 September 2009

    A new English-language Web site for the government of Abkhazia has been launched

    For centuries, the Republic of Abkhazia, which is located at a strategic crossroads between Europe and Asia, has struggled to maintain its centuries-old culture and identity. Since the devastating 1992-93 war with Georgia, the Abkhaz government has worked hard to rebuild its economy and reach out to the world.

    Miles of pristine Black Sea coastline and tree-covered mountains have made Abkhazia a favorite vacation spot for visitors from Russia and other neighboring countries. Our nation is known for its wines and unique cuisine.

    Last month, Abkhazia celebrated the one-year anniversary of its official recognition by Russia and Nicaragua, an event that has propelled us onto the world stage. They were recently joined by Venezuela. On September 30, we invite the world to join us in celebrating the 16th anniversary of our victory over Georgian forces.

    This website contains information on visiting Abkhazia, as well as promising investment opportunities in trade, agriculture and manufacturing. If you know someone who might share your interest in Abkhazia, please invite them to visit:
    http://www.therepublicofabkhazia.org

    --Government of the Republic of Abkhazia

    The saviour of Georgia? by Neal Ascherson

    Caught in a diplomatic trap, the country's best hope of escape could be a young opposition leader.

    Neal Ascherson - The Guardian, Monday 28 September 2009

    'The Russians like what they see in Georgia at the moment." Irakli Alasania, the young Georgian whom many in the west would like to see replacing Mikheil Saakashvili as president, was in London this month, commenting bitterly on his country's diplomatic impotence.

    Alasania, at 34, is already an experienced politician with global contacts, especially in the United States, where the Obama administration is showing signs of impatience with Saakashvili's obstinacy. More than a year after the disastrous war with Russia over South Ossetia, Georgia is still insisting on its "territorial integrity", and yet the de facto independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has been a reality for 16 years now.

    In the wake of the war, Russia formally recognised the independence of both territories. But the outgoing Bush administration, Nato and the European Union all passionately endorsed the Georgian position. Western media still refer to "breakaway Georgian regions". An open letter in last week's Guardian, signed by the Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel and several other veterans of the 1989 revolutions, urged the world to defend Georgia's "territorial integrity". The same week, the latest round of Geneva talks on "security in the South Caucasus" broke up without results – a proposed "no use of force" agreement stalled by Georgian reluctance.

    But elsewhere the Abkhazian situation has suddenly begun to move. Last week, Venezuela joined Nicaragua and Russia in recognising Abkhazia, a small, fertile strip along the Black Sea coast. Unlike South Ossetia, Abkhazia does not want to become a Russian protectorate, although it is becoming steadily more dependent on Russian military and economic backing.

    Last month the Georgian-Abkhazian standoff went naval. A Georgian patrol boat seized a Turkish ship heading for Abkhazia with a cargo of petrol and diesel, and its captain was given a 24-year jail sentence for "smuggling". It was a risky act. Since the August war, the Abkhazian coast has been guarded by Russian missile cruisers from the Black Sea fleet. A few days ago, the Russians sent a patrol boat with the mission to arrest any Georgian ships entering Abkhazian waters. The Black Sea is heating up. Turkish diplomats flew to Georgia and secured the release of their captain. But then, against Georgian advice, one of them went on to hold talks in Sukhum, the Abkhazian capital. It looks as if a new Turkish policy for the region may be emerging.

    Turkey has a large Abkhazian minority anxious to break their motherland's isolation. Can the Georgians be persuaded to allow regular contact between Turkey and Abkhazia – for instance, a ferry service between Sukhum and the port of Trabzon? This could lead to a joint strategy between Georgia, Turkey and Abkhazia, aiming to reduce Abkhazia's dependence on Russia. That, in turn, could open the way to a Georgian-Abkhazian rapprochement, shelving the "territorial integrity" problem.

    Irakli Alasania is about the only Georgian politician whom the Abkhazian leaders respect. His father was killed – some say murdered – in the 1993-94 [1992-93 AT] war as Abkhazia defeated Georgia. And yet when he was in charge of negotiations with them, he was able to reach at least an outline agreement. But President Saakshvili rejected it, and Alasania was "exiled" as ambassador to the UN. On the eve of the war in 2008, he made a flying visit to Sukhum in a vain effort to secure a new understanding. After the war he broke with Saakashvili, and now leads the opposition Our Georgia-Free Democrats party.

    In London, Alasania was wary. He still describes the August war as "Russian aggression", though with "mistakes on the Georgian side". But he remains convinced that peaceful association with Abkhazia is possible, and thinks the Abkhaz wish for stability and a secure ethnic identity is sincere.

    Meanwhile, Georgia is in a trap. By clinging to the unreal claim that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are provinces under foreign occupation, Georgia has lost its freedom of manoeuvre. Russia is given a permanent excuse to "intervene to preserve peace", and to tighten its grip on Abkhazia. The threat of fresh conflict means that Georgia's Nato membership is indefinitely postponed, and that President Saakashvili's government remains dependent on western, mainly American, support.

    Maybe Georgian helplessness suits the big powers. It certainly suits Russia. That's what Irakli Alasania means by the Russians liking what they see. But if he can convert enough voters to a radical new policy, he might be the man to free Georgia from its trap.

    Neal Ascherson is a journalist, and author of Black Sea: The Birthplace of Civilisation and Barbarism.

    Sunday, 27 September 2009

    Georgia - Crisis in the Caucasus

    Documentary: Georgia - Crisis in the Caucasus

    Journeyman Pictures - 25 min 51 sec [29 September 2008]

    As Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia, the world’s eyes turned East. In the West the message was clear: Georgia falls victim to Russian aggression. But is our media telling us the whole story?

    Today Abkhazia, previously a province of Georgia, is celebrating independence after Russian military forced Georgia out of the province. The sky flashes with fireworks and Abkhazians dance in the streets. But few outside share Abkhazia’s enthusiasm. ‘Russia is now directly telling all its neighbours that it will be using force – that it is trying to restore its lost empire’, says Georgi Badrize, a Georgian diplomat. Few in the West would disagree. But in Abkhazia’s Parliament, president Sergey Bagapsh is giving official thanks to Russia. This day, he tells us, marks the end of decades of Georgian abuse. ‘People were starving’, he says. ‘We couldn’t treat our kids, we were not allowed to import medications’. Many Abkhazians are angered by the pro-Georgian stance of Western media. ‘Everybody thinks that the Georgians deserve independence and freedom and the right to be part of the international community’, says humanitarian worker Liana Kvarchelia, ‘and we are not’. Bagapsh claims that it is not only the media that is biased in Georgia’s favour. He provides our reporter with an armed guard and permission to enter the border region between Abkhasia and Georgia, where he claims we will find evidence that the UN and NATO were complicit in Georgia’s illegally stockpiling of weapons for an attack against Abkhazia. A shocking and fascinating report.

    Friday, 25 September 2009

    Saakashvili - Lies - Contradictory: An example on Georgia's Propaganda

    Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
    Adolf Hitler


    -29 April 2008, An excerpt from Saalashvili's speech.''About 450,000-500,000 pride residents of Abkhazia live in exile in their own country. They cannot return to their homes, to their villages, to their family members and relatives, to the graves of their ancestors, to their friends, with whom they found their feet, with whom they were going to school, with whom they grew up.''
    http://www.president.gov.ge/?l=E&m=0&sm=3&st=150&id=2597

    -25 September 2009
    . "Abkhazia today has been emptied of more than three-fourths of its population," he (SAAKASHVILI) said. "Gardens and hotels, theaters and restaurants have been replaced by military bases and graveyards."

    Another excertps from different sources:

    *****

    Some important points:

    It's Georgia started the war and created huge humanitarian catastrophy.

    On 14 August 1992 when the Abkhazian Parliament was due to discuss discussing a draft proposal for a Federation with Georgia, Georgia invaded Abkhazia.

    An excerpt:

    ''In February 1992, the provisional Georgian Military Council announced Georgia’s return to its 1921 constitution. The Abkhaz Supreme Soviet was concerned that Abkhazia’s status was not adequately taken into consideration and so a draft treaty outlining plans on federal relations was sent to Tbilisi. Tbilisi did not respond and in July 1992 the Abkhaz Parliament reinstated the 1925 Abkhaz Constitution. On 14 August 1992 Georgian armed forces entered the Gali region of Abkhazia...''
    http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/country-profiles/europe/georgia?profile=politics&pg=7

    According to the 1989 census there were only 239,872 "Georgians" living in Abkhazia. (See Table 13. ''Ethno-demographic history of Abkhazia, 1886 - 1989, by Daniel Müller.'' [PDF] Some of them NEVER left Abkhazia after 1992 - 93 war.

    Georgian population fled before Abkhaz Army entered the occupied territories: See UNPO's report: ''THE MAJORITY OF GEORGIANS, HOWEVER, FLED BEFORE ABKHAZIAN AND NORTHERN CAUCASUS TROOPS ARRIVED.''
    http://www.unpo.org/downloads/Abkhazia_Georgia_report_1992.pdf

    Abkhazia unilaterally decided to open the gates for the (largely Mingrelian) refugees to return to Abkhazia from Georgia in 1999. Georgia at that time was actually accusing these refugees of being TRAITORS to Georgia. More than 60,000 refugees have been successfully resettled in Abkhazia.

    During the war some Kartvelians (Mainly Mingrelians who lived in Abkhazia) fought against to Abkhazians. According to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, those who use arms in an armed struggle and then flee do not fall under the international definition of refugees. The responsibility for these people fell and falls solely on the Georgian authorities. It is important to note here that a great many of those who fled from Abkhazia were recent immigrants. They were partly victims of the compulsory resettlement organized by (Georgian) Stalin (Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili) and his Abkhazian-born Mingrelian lieutenant Lavrenti Beria. See: Demographic change in Abkhazia.

    Abkhazian society can allow the return only of those Kartvelians who did not fight on the Georgian side and only after they recognize Abkhazia as an independent state. And same right for return should be given also to descendants of Abkhazian refugees from the Caucasian War of the 19. century, who live mostly in Turkey.

    The way ahead for Abkhazians, Ossetians and Georgians

    The Guardian, Friday 25 September 2009

    It is sad to see such figures as Vaclav Havel and Vytautas Landsbergis (Letters, 22 September), whose courage in their states' struggles for independence from the Soviet Union is undeniable, so out of touch as to argue that the European democracies should continue the failed policies of the last two decades with regard to Georgia.

    President Saakashvili's 7 August 2008 assault on South Ossetia was simply the latest expression of the ugly nationalism that blighted Georgia's own path to independence. An early result was the 1990-92 war imposed on South Ossetia by Georgia's first post-communist president, the late Zviad Gamsakhurdia, followed by the war in Abkhazia (1992-93), initiated by Eduard Shevardnadze. Both wars ended in de facto secession from a Georgia which, without a thought for the republic's minorities, had been unwisely recognised by the international community within its Soviet frontiers in March 1992. At that time, Georgia was headed by a military junta and Shevardnadze had no democratic mandate. Since then, Tbilisi has tried several times to reignite hostilities.

    The international community's support for Georgia's claims to territorial integrity has achieved the opposite of the intended goal, pushing Abkhazia and South Ossetia closer to Russia. Russia officially recognised both on 26 August 2008, after its military response to Saakashvili's provocation; since then Nicaragua and Venezuela have followed suit. If Europe wishes to see stability in Transcaucasia, it should pressure Tbilisi to abandon imperial fantasies and to recognise the new states. That will enable normalisation of relations in the region and a subsequent European input of influence and investment to counterbalance that flowing (and increasing) from Russia.

    Professor George Hewitt

    Honorary consul for Abkhazia
    *****

    As a member of the pro-European opposition in Georgia, I support the sentiments expressed by Vaclav Havel and others. Whatever our views of President Saakashvili, we want to see our country reunited and an end to the illegal Russian occupation. There is no doubt the 2008 conflict was planned in Moscow and I hope the EU's report will condemn the almost daily Russian provocations in our territory, as well as showing how our government fell into the most obvious trap.

    We need to look forward, though. Both sides must respect the terms of the ceasefire. Through trade and incentives, we need to offer the Abkhazians and Ossetians an alternative to Russia. The international community must do far more to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Georgians. But our security in the face of the Russian threat must not come at the expense of a vibrant, healthy democracy or political reconciliation. I have personal experience of negotiating with the Abkhaz and remain optimistic that we can achieve our dream of peaceful coexistence, not just between Abkahzians, Ossetians and Georgians, but also between political opponents in Tbilisi. We will need European support for both.

    Irakli Alasania

    Leader, Our Georgia Free Democrats
    Source: The Guardian

    Thursday, 24 September 2009

    Statement from Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh in Advance of President Saakashvili's UNGA Speech

    September 24, 2009

    Statement from Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh in Advance of President Saakashvili's UNGA Speech

    President Saakashvili is one of the most dangerous leaders in the world. He has convinced his allies that he supports democracy, yet his own people know that he jails critics and crushes dissent. He speaks of peace, yet he triggers war. His brutal attack on the civilians of South Ossetia in 2008 and his refusal to take responsibility for the unnecessary deaths and widespread damage that resulted is a tragic reminder of his dangerous behavior. His recent confiscation of ships delivering peaceful goods to Abkhazia is yet another example of his reckless decision-making.‏

    I understand the United Nations must provide a forum for world leaders, even those who have consistently displayed an inability to tell the truth. But for the U.N. to debate the future of the Abkhazian and Ossetian people without even hearing their voices is unconscionable and smacks of an era when colonial powers unilaterally determined the fate of smaller nations.

    If the United Nations is serious about promoting peace in the Caucasus, then it will use its influence to persuade President Saakashvili to renounce violence against his neighbors and to participate in an honest dialogue about a peaceful way forward.

    Abkhazians have welcomed back tens of thousands of refugees to the Gal region and have established policies to ensure their safe return and resettlement. We are moving forward to build our nation’s future and secure our position as responsible and productive
    members of the international community.

    Sergei Bagapsh, President, Republic of Abkhazia