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…”

  • 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…”

  • 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…”

  • Jörg Himmelreich, senior trans-Atlantic fellow, George Marshall Fund - “…A rethinking of U.S. diplomacy toward Georgia is urgently needed…”

  • 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…”

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.