Thursday, 25 November 2010

Abkhazia does not believe Saakashvili pledges not to use force: FM

SUKHUM, November 24 (Itar-Tass) - The statement of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in the European Parliament that Georgia will not use force in the settlement of conflicts in the South Caucasus “is not a signal for the start of a peaceful dialogue for Abkhazia,” Abkhazian Foreign Minister Maxim Gvindzhiya commented on Wednesday.

The foreign minister said he did not react to “Saakashvili’s statements with enthusiasm, as Georgia has never demonstrated positive intentions towards Abkhazia in the past 18 years”.

“We have seen nothing from Georgia but wars and provocations. That is why we treat Saakashvili’s statement with caution. Let us check his words through concrete moves,” the foreign minister told reporters here.

Addressing a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Saakashvili said Georgia “is interested in beginning serious negotiations with the Russian leadership,” and besides “it comes out with a unilateral initiative to never use force for the restoration of its territorial integrity”.

“Tbilisi is ready to a comprehensive dialogue with Russian partners,” he noted.

Russia will trust the promises of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to stay away from the use of force when they are placed on paper and take legal effect, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday in a comment on Saakashvili's speech in the European parliament.

"If one puts aside the political gewgawry and the collection of nice-looking literary quotations, the speech produces a really dual impression," the commentary said. "On the one hand, one would really like to believe that the claims on renunciation of the use of force reflect recognition of the truths that Russia and other members of the international community have been trying to drive home to the Georgian leadership for many long years, namely, that the methods based on the application of force and military resolution of problems are inadmissible and criminal in today's world."

"Still the manner, in which this ostensibly 'unilateral solemn pledge' is presented, cannot but put one on alert," the Foreign Ministry said. "Saakashvili goes on with his attempts to convince the international community of the existence of a conflict of some kind between Russia and Georgia, while the genuine case in hand is the many-years-long conflict between the Georgian government and the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which ended in a final independent self-determination of the two countries after Georgia's aggressive military adventure in August 2008," the commentary said.

"Russia continues believing that the only way to peace and security in Southern Caucasus lies through a legal affirmation of the commitment to the non-use of force between Tbilisi and South Ossetia, as well as Tbilisi and Abkhazia," the ministry said.

Source: Itar-Tass


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Dieter Boden: stiff resistance came from the Georgians

Olesya Vartanian / Ekho Kavkaza, November 19, 2010

TBILISI --- Dieter Boden, Former Head of OSCE and UN missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, presented his view of current policy towards the disputed regions in Tbilisi. Boden also spoke of the lost opportunity to resolve the Georgian conflict.

Nine years ago, in December 2001, Dieter Boden, delivered an initiative in his position as UN special envoy that was revolutionary at the time. Now few people remember the proposal’s long title; almost everyone simply calls it "the Boden Plan.”

This document defines a new constitution, in which Abkhazia was defined as a "sovereign entity" within the "federal state" of Georgia.

Last night Boden, speaking at the "European House" in Tbilisi, said for the first time that he already had the consent of Sukhum long before his official presentation of the "plan.” The Kremlin then gave its approval. Sergei Lavrov, Mediator from Moscow at that time, spoke afterwards.

"At that time, strong resistance came not from the Abkhazians, but from the Georgians. It came from the faction of the parliament that represented the interests of the Abkhazian government in exile. They were categorically against the use of the term "sovereign” to describe Abkhazia.

As Boden says, when the Abkhazians learned of the feud in Tbilisi, they decided to "seize the moment” and back out.

This, in turn, influenced the decision of the issue with South Ossetia. Up to that time a similar "Boden Plan" had been on the table of officials in Tskhinval. But when they saw the difficulties the Abkhazians faced, talk about the possible accession to "a federal Georgia” ended for the Ossetians.

Despite the failure of "Boden Plan,” in analysts’ circles it has been said that never before or since has Sukhum and Tbilisi been so close to concluding a lasting peace.

During his speech yesterday, Boden said that in the short term his document is not going to have practical applications."The realities have changed" - he replied to the question whether he has the desire to mediate between the parties.

For the last few years Boden has been teaching in his native Germany. But analysts say that his influence on current processes concerning the Georgian conflict continues. He occasionally meets with leading players in the Caucasus and abroad.

Speaking yesterday before foreign diplomats, Georgian politicians and public figures, Boden criticized several fundamental points in Tbilisi's policy towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In the first place, he said, even if we imagine that the occupation ends tomorrow, Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not want to become integral parts of Georgia so quickly. "It is an illusion" – Boden said, proposing that Georgia and the international community work in complementary fashion to resolve the conflicts between the Georgians and the Abkhazians and Ossetians.

In this process, according to Bodin, it is first necessary to "work on our mistakes." He offered to give a "political assessment" of the fighting that occurred in the 1990s and during the August war.

"I can tell you that we in Germany had such an experience. Our history consists of periods of resumption of peaceful coexistence with our neighbors, including with those who suffered from Nazi Germany. "

But, Boden said, in contrast to private citizens, politicians in Sukhum and Tbilisi are not yet ready to overcome "their own dramatization of events."

Boden welcomed the approaches outlined in Georgia's strategy for the disputed regions.

"But I have only one concern regarding this strategy. In order for confidence-building measures to begin to work, it is necessary that independent action be taken by independent entities. And I do not advocate any government policies when the state begins to monitor what is happening in the private sector. "

Regarding Russia’s influence, Boden said that "it’s not going anywhere." And in resolving the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Tbilisi still has to reckon with Moscow’s opinion. "The leaders have remained silent so far, but eventually this will change" – Boden said.

Source: Ekho Kavkaza (Дитер Боден: жесткое сопротивление шло от грузин)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Maxim Gundjia addressed a letter to OSCE and MFA of Lithuania

Maxim Gundjia addressed a letter to OSCE and MFA of Lithuania concerning upcoming OSCE summit in Astana, Kazakhstan




Your Excellencies,

OSCE is one of the organizations, which presence in the Caucasus was a significant deterrent to the escalation of the conflict, but all the efforts of the International Community and in particular Russia towards political resolution of the Georgian-South Ossetian and the Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts have been whittled by unilateral and aggressive actions of Georgia in August 2008. As a result, new political realities had emerged in the Caucasus and Abkhazia and South Ossetia became recognized and sovereign states.

During period of OSCE’ presence in the Caucasus it has gained considerable experience and knowledge of chronology and history of the conflicts in the region. However, Georgia which is denying its guiltiness for the outbreaks of numerous wars, undertakes new provocative actions and continues to develop new aggressive plans against Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

One of these manifestations is initiated by Georgia international campaign for the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Russian-occupied territories.

In accordance with accepted international norms and conventions, the question of recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as occupied territories is illegal and unfounded.

According to The Hague Convention of 1907, Geneva Conventions of 1949 and certain provisions of Additional Protocol to Geneva Conventions of 1977, occupied territories are such territories, "occupied by enemy forces, leading sustained and concerted military operations" or "creating their own administration". Territory is considered as occupied when it "indeed is under the authority of hostile army."

It must be emphasized that democratically elected, legitimate government structures of the Government of the Republic of Abkhazia that have nothing to do with "administration of hostile army" enjoy full authority throughout the territory of Abkhazia.

It should be noted that Russian troops are located on the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia in accordance with the international agreements signed between Abkhazia and Russia. Moreover, the presence of Russian troops is welcomed and fully supported by the entire population of Abkhazia. Given situation is caused by the fact that these forces are the guarantors of non-resumption of hostilities from the side of Georgia, which is still preparing plans for another military invasion of Abkhazia.

Based on the aforementioned, the call of the Georgian side to international community to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as an occupied territories is simply an attempt to portray Georgia as a victim and to distort the facts and consequences of long-term confrontation between Georgia and Abkhazia.

We also believe it is necessary to note that many of the OSCE declarations on the so-called "ethnic cleansing" of Georgians in Abkhazia, reflect superficial and prejudiced attitude towards the problem of Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. This position completely ignores the results of investigation of the UN Experts Committee in October 1993, pursuant to which massacres of Abkhaz and Russian-speaking population on the territory of Abkhazia by the Georgian State Council troops were recognized.

We note that during this period the UN Mission conducted this work with participation of the OSCE. "The United Nations attempted to revive the peace process through diplomatic means, in consultation with Summit on Security and Cooperation in Europe (SSCE) [now renamed into Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)], in order to ensure effective coordination of activities."

Despite this, the OSCE repeatedly reflected biased pro-Georgian position, laying all the responsibility on the Abkhaz side. Such a biased, one-sided position of the OSCE, as reflected in the Budapest, Lisbon and Istanbul declarations, only encourages Georgia to irresponsible aggressive policy in the region.

As one of the Co-chairs of Geneva discussions, the OSCE is obliged to conduct equidistant constructive policy aimed at stabilizing the situation in the region. Lack of such policy could cause reasonable doubts from the Abkhazian side concerning neutrality of the OSCE, as the Co-chair of the Geneva discussions.

Reaffirming our commitment to constructive and peaceful dialogue, we deem it necessary to provide an opportunity for representatives of the Abkhazian side to visit the OSCE Headquarters for meetings with leaders of the organization, and to address the states-participants in the format of post-soviet space, as well as to be present during discussion of matters related to the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict held within the OSCE. This condition will enable the OSCE to make objective and balanced decisions that will contribute to resolution of conflicts and contradictions in the Caucasus.


Sukhum 12/11/2010

Source: MFA Abkhazia

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Secret prisons in Georgia - system of intimidation for the residents of Abkhazia

The disappearance without a trace of the Abkhazian citizen Harry Jopua in the mid of October made the Abkhazian authorities to drawattention of international organizations to the policy of the Georgian side in the region. All negotiations between Sukhum and Tbilisi in fact are ceased due to the August events in Caucasus. However, international mediators are trying to reanimate in every possible way the locked process of peaceful settlement. The Abkhazian politicians fairly noticed that without taking into consideration the up-dated reality it will be impossible to achieve complete and full-scale settlement of the existing disagreements. But the major problem is that by words Georgia does not reject the political dialogue but in fact, is continuing to use coercive pressure on the Abkhazian side.

One of the examples of using such political methods are terrorist attacks that are constantly carried out by the Georgian special services. It is in this context that the cases of abduction of the Abkhazian citizens should be viewed. As an example we can take the incident of 2007 can when David Sigua, ethnic Georgian, who was an active supporter of the idea of independent Abkhazia was kidnapped from his own home by the “unknown” persons. There is no doubt that it is the life position of Sigua that caused his disappearance. We deliberately put the word “unknown” in quotes since the Abkhazian law-enforcement agencies do know for sure that the abduction of Sigua was organized by the Georgian special services. It should be noted, that they are regularly sent from the neighbor territories to carry out such and other subversive terrorist attacks.

Abkhazian side has been trying to free its citizen by using all known ways of either official diplomacy or the peoples’ one for three years already. Sukhum has many times officially addressed the top international authorities requesting to get involved in locating David Sigua’s position. But his destiny is still unknown. In response to urgent requests to return Sigua the Georgian side gives a hackneyed answer that they have no information about Sigua, and the international representatives in Georgia in a confidential manner confirm the words of the Georgian authorities.. As a result, there is a deadlock which will be difficult to overcome since the Western protectors are not interested in further staining the flyblown reputation of Saakashvili.

A few days ago, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spread a sensational message, notably regarding the letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Maksim Gundjia to the Executive Secretary of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture Trevor Stevens The reason for the Abkhazian politician’s appeal is another crime against humanity. This time the victim of the Georgian special services became Garry Djopua. He was kidnapped on the 9th of October in the border region of Gal. Mr. Gunjia requests Mr. Stevens to facilitate the objective investigation on finding the whereabouts of the Abkhazian citizen. It is not a coincidence that that Mr. Gunjia addressed this particular person. An objective investigation can be conducted upon the will of the European statesman. In Georgia there are offices many international organizations. On the border itself there are the EU monitors. But they will unlikely participate in investigating the cases of complete disappearance of the Abkhazian citizens three years or a month ago. This is not only the case of their unconditional support of Georgian authorities.

In the above mentioned letter the Abkhazian Minister assumes that the Abkhazian residents are probably detained in the Georgian secret prisons. In the light of the scant information on the results of the last round of Geneva discussions the news regarding the secret prisons came like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. It did not come as a bombshell, however. While the message was ignored by most of mass media, a number of facts mentioned make us believe there can be a high possibility of the existence of secret prisons in Georgia. Although there is no absolute proof, all of the above mentioned shows that the hypothesis of the MFA of Abkhazia can be true.

It is well known that Georgia is the only country at the Post-Soviet space which blindly follows the political directions of the Western patrons and especially the US. This transatlantic country was once involved in the political scandal several years ago when the information regarding the secret prisons in Eastern Europe leaked into the press. That time Washington tried but it did not manage to put a good face on the situation. The whole media buzz around the European prisons where captives from Iraq and Afghanistan were brought to and then tortured played a nasty trick on the then President George Bush. According to many political scholars this information regarding the inhuman treatment of the detainees shocked the American electorate. As a result, they voted for Barak Obama, not for McCain, who was supported by Bush.

The information regarding the secret prisons in Georgia can cause indignation among ordinary Georgians and probably will as they know exactly how the current regime is struggling with the political opposition. Using its punitive institutions Tbilisi authorities deal shortly with everybody who thinks differently. Many experts admit that Georgia has the biggest number of political detainees in the world. The existence of the secret casemates is beneficial for the Georgian authorities not only because of their solidarity with the Americans who got stuck in Afghanistan. It is also an effective way for them to get rid of the ardent critics.

The reason for secret prison is obvious: it is a place to hide forever the people that are disliked by the current regime. David Sigua did not suit Tbilisi authorities. He actively supported the official Sukhum Government, he was popular among the residents of Gal region, and people listened to him. In this case, isn’t it better to get him into such prison which is not mentioned in the Ministry of Justice list and is difficult to find in the out-of-the-way mountainous locations. According to the unverified sources, the secret casemates can be in the suburb areas of Tbilisi and Rustavi. And they are not solely Georgian prisons. There is a possibility that the secret prisons of CIA are located in this territory. Taking into consideration the participation of Georgia in the international anti terrorist operations in Afghanistan it can be assumed that talibs after the capture are transferred to Georgia for further detention.

Therefore , Georgia was accused of creating a system of secret prisons. Right now Abkhazia does not have enough evidence, but it has assumptions. Two Abkhazian citizens have already disappeared in the Georgian prisons. Who is the next victim of the Georgian special services? It will be truly sad, if the abductions continue.

“On the 26th of October, the day of the publication another Abkhazian citizen Parpaliya Nugzar (born in 1945) who works as a foreman at the Rep village was kidnapped. This incident happened on the Georgian side of the border at the village of Hercha. Parpaliya N. was captured by Georgian special services when he was returning to Abkhazia from the territory of Georgia. The 65-year old man was accused of the drug trafficking but it is known that the evidence was fake.”

Lev Sonnikov

Source: IA REGNUM (Russian)