Wednesday, 22 December 2010

President received Turkey's Abkhaz Diaspora representatives

December 21, SUKHUM -- Today President Sergey Bagapsh has received representatives of the Turkey’s Abkhaz Diaspora engaged in construction business in the cities of Adapazari, Izmir and Duzce - Aluk Tsugba, Emir Zhiba, Ezgur Argun and Chaataya Khvatysh.

Businessmen, representing the leading construction companies from Turkey, expressed readiness to support their historical Motherland in the sphere of construction. “We have all possibilities both financial and technical for this”, Aluk Tsugba said at the meeting with the President.

Representatives of construction firms presented to the President a booklet with the properties they have built in Turkey.

Welcoming the guests, Sergey Bagapsh said a state cannot develop without economy. “Our country’s independence was recognized two years and a half ago. And now we need serious work of both the citizens of Abkhazia living here, and the Abkhaz, being beyond the bounds of their Motherland”, the President said.

The President emphasized that the Russian Federation renders much aid and support to Abkhazia. “Russia renders free aid of RUB 11 bln. to Abkhazia. On these funds we restore roads, we build kindergartens, we repair schools, hospitals, we put the water and power supply systems in order. In the first place we need to restore this infrastructure to begin construction work”, the President said.

The head of state briefed on the planned large-scale work on rehabilitating the railway and the airport, building a road connecting Abkhazia and Karachay-Cherkessia, supplying Abkhazia with gas. According to Bagapsh, there’s also much to do in agriculture. He suggested that businessmen should decide, what specific areas they would like to work in. “If there is a wish to build a factory, a plant, to be engaged in agriculture –no problem”, Bagapsh said.

Speaking about the Turkish-Abkhaz relations, Sergey Bagapsh said he understands the position of Turkey, which is a NATO power. “And, nevertheless, Turkey is our nearest neighbor, some day mutual relations between our countries will be established anyway”, the President said.

A MP Taali Khvatysh, who accompanied the delegation, said he had returned to his Motherland 10 years before and he was not sorry about it. “I believe that every Abkhaz wherever he is, should think of how to return here and to help restore the country’s economy”, he said.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Powder, Beach and Chachliks

Powder, Beach and Chachliks from Jean-Marc Wyss on Vimeo.

Another great place on earth to ride! At the south of the Caucasus range, between Russia and Georgia, is Abkhazia. Small republic since 2008, this new country hope to get a place in the world, free from his powerful neighbours. Overpowdered white mountains are facing the Black Sea, the palms trees are shaked by strong winds while the snow is covering the summits. A group of swiss and french skiers&snowboarders went to explore this unknown region, discovering early March unbelievable snow conditions, so far from every expectations. If you wish more details about this trip, go to We will be pleased to give you all informations you need, and organize you next ski trip.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sergey Bagapsh received EU Special Representative for South Caucasus Peter Semnebi

December 14, SUKHUM -- Today the President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh has received the EU Special Representative for South Caucasus Peter Semnebi. A frank exchange of view took place on the situation in the process of negotiations, first of all, in the format of Geneva discussions. The President of Abkhazia said the atmosphere around the Georgian-Abkhaz settlement in the light of reaction of the European political circles and the US Senate to the Georgia’s President Saakashvili’s declarations, forces Abkhazia to essentially modify its position.

This applies to possible cooperation of the Abkhaz party with the European structures not only in the political, but also in the humanitarian sphere. According to the President, the attempt to divide cooperation for a political and humanitarian aspect does not lead to positive results. “We can see politically poorly-thought out and committed actions of European structures supporting Georgia, despite the tragical events which the Georgian party is responsible for”, Sergey Bagapsh said.

The President of Abkhazia reaffirmed to the EU Mission his position in relation to the so-called "peace initiatives of Tbilisi”. The experience of relations with Georgia proves the contrary to the Abkhaz party. That’s why Sukhum cannot trust any Saakashvili's declarations until Abkhazia receives clear acknowledgement of Georgia’s readiness to sign an Agreement on the non-renewal of hostilities with international guarantees. An official letter with the Abkhazia’s position on this matter has been already sent to the UN Secretary General, Sergey Bagapsh said.

The head of state also notified the delegation on the intention to start creating full-fledged border infrastructure on the river Ingur in the near future.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

WikiLeaks: 'Left with Russia, Abkhaz Looking for Daylight'

Civil Georgia, December 12, 2010 -- A senior U.S. diplomat was told by his counterparts from EU last year to press Georgia to work with Abkhazians, as "they are looking for some daylight with the Russians", according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

The confidential memo from the U.S. embassy in Stockholm records a July 9, 2009 meeting between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon and five EU foreign policy diplomats.

According to the cable, Helga Schmid, who at the time was head of policy planning unit at the General Secretariat of EU Council, told Gordon "to press Georgia to work with the Abkhaz."

"The Abkhaz have been rebuffed in their overtures to the Georgians, and are left with no option but to seek Russia’s support," Schmid told Gordon, according to the cable.

Schmid is now deputy secretary generals of EU's new diplomatic service - European External Action Service (EEAS).

According to the cable, during the same meeting another European diplomat from EU's external relations commission, Karel Kovanda, told Gordon about the need to reach out to the Abkhazians.

"They are looking for some daylight with the Russians, and we should help," the European diplomat is cited in the cable.

In December, 2009 EU elaborated engagement and non-recognition policy towards Georgia's two breakaway regions, which aims at creating space for interacting with these regions, but without thier recognition.

In September, 2009 the Georgian government announced about the plan to develop a strategy for engagement with the two regions, which eventually resulted in adoption of the State Strategy on Occupied Territories in January, 2010 and its Action Plan six months later.

According to the same cable Gordon told EU diplomats, that Georgia was "a good example" of the U.S. not compromising its principles in the name of better relations with Russia.

"The Russians are testing the Obama Administration to see if it will compromise; it will not," Gordon said, according to the cable.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Geopolitics For Dummies: What Does The Collapse Of The Soviet Union Really Mean? By Eugene Ivanov

The Ivanov Report, December 13, 2010 -- Regardless of how one would characterize the collapse of the Soviet Union -- as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century" or just its "major geopolitical disaster" -- everyone appears to agree that it was one of the 20th century's most fateful geopolitical events. Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin once called it a "genuine drama" for the Russian nation. In contrast, many in the West celebrated the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a Cold War trophy and a sign of the "end of history."

While the fact that the Soviet Union has "collapsed" is not in dispute, little attention is being paid to what the Soviet Union, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), actually was. The only thing everyone seems to remember is that the USSR was composed of 15 so-called Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR). So when the USSR was "collapsing", the "collapse" was supposed to proceed precisely along the borders separating the SSRs, resulting in the creation of 15 newly independent states. Can it get any simpler than that?

Not so fast. In 1991, the Soviet Union was a true administrative monster that held together as many as 173 different territorial entities: 15 above-mentioned SSRs, 20 Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs, parts of SSRs), 8 autonomous regions, 114 regions, 6 territories ("край"), and 10 autonomous districts.

Countless changes to this administrative puzzle have occurred in almost 70 years (1922-1991) that the Soviet Union was in existence: new districts, regions and republics emerged and then disappeared with the speed of images on a slide show; borders between entities were drawn and redrawn, and then redrawn again, by a restless hand of a mysterious artist; shuffling smaller "republics" between bigger ones was taking place almost as often as shuffling cards in professional poker. Just a few examples. In 1936, the Kazakh and Kyrgyz ASSRs ceased being parts of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), the largest SSR in the USSR, and were "upgraded" to the Kazakh and Kyrgyz SSRs, while the Karakalpak ASSR was transferred from the RSFSR to the Uzbek SSR. In the 1950's, a swath of RSFSR territories bordering the Kazakh SSR went under the Kazakh SSR's jurisdiction. In 1954, the Ukraine SSR got a gift from the RSFSR: Crimea (the Crimea region of the RSFSR).

Think about that for a moment. Crimea has been an intrinsic part of Russia for almost 200 years, with the Russian Empire spending blood and treasure, during the Crimean War of 1853-1856, to keep the peninsula within its borders. And then, a Communist apparatchik, Nikita Khrushchev, following the best traditions of the Soviet Union's arbitrariness, just transferred Crimea from Russia proper to Ukraine. (The reason for Khrushchev's decision -- to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the reunification of Ukraine with Russia -- sounds especially absurd today.) Is it not incumbent upon anyone who wants to put away the legacy of the Soviet Union to condemn this act of supreme state stupidity (the term "state treason" would perhaps be more appropriate) and to demand that Crimea be returned to where it truly belongs: in Russia?

Granted, the borders of some Soviet Socialist Republics -- the three Baltic SSRs (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) come to mind first -- did reflect historically established demarcations between stable and mature nations. But others did not. Instead, they were created by the malicious mind of the world's most creative nation builder, Josef Stalin. Take the Georgian SSR. This product of Stalin's imaginative cartography included the Abkhaz ASSR and South Ossetia autonomous region, both placed under Georgian rule in contradiction to historic and common sense and despite protestations by both the Abkhaz and Ossetian people. So when in 1991, Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia rightfully demanded their independence from Georgia. They won it, after an armed rebellion, in 1992-1993. But the Western governments have refused to accept their de facto independence. Western strategists apparently believed that in this part of the Soviet Union, its "collapse" should be partial, so that Georgia's independence from the USSR was legitimate, despite the fact that Georgia joined the USSR voluntarily, but the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia was not, despite the fact that both entities were made part of Georgia by Stalin's order.

Our Secretary of State ought to consider this the next time she articulates U.S. policy in the region. The Madam Secretary should remember that by vowing to uphold Georgia's "territorial integrity", she is attempting to preserve the legacy of the Soviet Union (and fulfill the dreams of its bloody dictator).

(The Soviet Union is hardly the only place where creative geopolitical cartography was applied. The West applauded the "collapse" of Yugoslavia, a mini-"evil empire" for many. But for the NATO strategists, the "collapse" was not complete enough, so NATO took away, by brutal force, Kosovo from Serbia. But when Serbs in Western Kosovo wanted to join their compatriots in Serbia to stop the ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Kosovars, the West cried foul and vowed to uphold the "territorial integrity" of the narcomafia heaven that contemporary Kosovo is.)

It will take time to heal all the wounds -- political, economic, social, cultural, and physological -- the precipitious and disorderly disintegration of the Soviet Union has caused to Russia and its people. It will also take time to fully understand what the Soviet Union was and was not in the history of the Russian state. The burden of this work lies on the shoulders of the Russians themselves. But we in the West can help, too. First, by accepting that today's Russia is not a Soviet Union and will never be one. Second, by realizing that the "collapse" of the Soviet Union is still going on, and we can't just end its history by whim.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Meeting of Maxim Gunjia with deputies of the Parliament of Dominican Republic

SUKHUM -- On December 9, 2010 Maxim Gunjia the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia met with deputies of the Parliament of Dominican Republic Ramon Fernandez and Francisco Matos.

A number of issues linked with perspectives of cooperation of both countries in different spheres were discussed. The deputies expressed their impressions during their visit in Abkhazia and marked beauty and hidden potential of the Republic. They underlined, that two countries had a lot of common and that circle of eventual cooperation is very wide in the future.

Maxim Gundjia told to the guests about the history of Abkhazia, national liberation movement and present socio-economic situation in the region. The Minister emphasized that countries of the Latin America are very like by spirit and Abkhazia will develop very close and friendly relations.

The deputies thanked the Minister for invitation and in response invited the Abkhazian delegation to visit the Dominican Republic for regulation of inter-Parliamentary relationship.

Source: MFA Abkhazia

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Is Everything Good for the U.S. Good for Georgia, and Vice Versa? By Justin Logan

The National Interest, December 8, 2010

One of the tropes of the Washington foreign-policy commentariat that I, and I imagine other realists, find most vexing is the tendency to assume that All Good Things Go Together. What is good for Washington is also good, by definition, for all of Washington’s allies, for the spread of freedom, economic growth, and democracy throughout the world, and for a variety of other purposes.

Invading Iraq, we were told, was not just smart for our national-security interests, but it would also be good for Iraqis because it would replace Saddam Hussein with a liberal democracy. This, in turn, would be good for the region because of the salutary effect such an example would have for other people living under other despotic regimes there, which would then have positive effects for the world at large, because, as we all are supposed to understand, the spread of democracy is by definition coextensive with the spread of peace.

Of course, it has not worked out that way. But one sees the same sort of thinking on display almost daily in Washington’s foreign policy debates.

Take, for example, the discussion in this article by Josh Rogin about the WikiLeaked documents involving Georgia, Russia, and the “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations. The central point of the article is this statement by U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle in June 2009:
A decision to move towards a more robust military relationship with Georgia will imperil our efforts to re-start relations with Russia. Our assessment is that if we say “yes” to a significant military relationship with Tbilisi, Russia will say “no” to any medium-term diminution in tensions, and feel less constrained absent reverting to more active opposition to critical U.S. strategic interests.
Beyrle acknowledges that the Georgian government likely would prefer to be sold arms from the United States, but argues that such a preference is actually in opposition to Georgia’s true interests, because arms sales would make Georgia less safe from Russia, not more:
From our vantage point, a burgeoning military supply relationship with Georgia is more of a liability for Georgia than a benefit. We recognize that our suggested approach would be deeply dissatisfying to Saakashvili, but we see ... no way to neutralize the advantages of geography, size, and capabilities enjoyed by Russia.
The implicit idea here is that Saakashvili is reckless and that arms sales would raise the likelihood of reckless behavior on his part, which would be bad for him, bad for Georgia, and bad for us. In the same article, Samuel Charap, associate director for the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center of for American Progress, agrees and expands on the logic, making two separate (or separable) points:
Instead of the argument of whether we can fulfill this desire of the Georgian government, we have to step back and say “what is the U.S. interest here?” There's no such thing as a military balance or a military deterrent in this case.
And then, more broadly:
The reset protects Georgia because Russia now has a whole lot more to lose. Before, nobody in Moscow was going to think “what will they think in Washington?” because they didn't care. Now they care.
The first point is a breath of fresh air: The question is not whether we can do what a client state wants us to do, but what we should want to do. Amen. But on the second point, if a client state wants us to do something that we’ve decided isn’t in our best interests, then maybe we have conflicting interests and should reassess the relationship, right?

No. Instead we assert that the client state is misperceiving its interests and instead will benefit from our unapologetically pursuing our own interests.

U.S. policymakers in the Obama administration appear to have decided—correctly, in my view—that the marginal benefits to us of somewhat warmer relations with Russia outweigh the potential benefits of policies designed to bring Georgia under the American security umbrella. That is the sort of calculation that they ought to be making, and there is no need to apologize for thinking in those terms.

But neither is there any need to gussy up our perception of our interests as being somehow identical to Georgia’s interests. Were I a Georgian foreign policy adviser, I would be pushing as hard as I could for the U.S. to sell arms, send military advisers, and beef up its diplomatic presence, as well as for NATO to grant a Membership Action Plan for ultimate accession to the Alliance, and every other benefit I could get.

In my view, that’s what the Georgians should be doing, whereas Washington should be opposing all of those policies. We have different interests. In a better world, instead of arguing that America’s interests are the world’s interests, we would simply acknowledge that our interests are not always in the interests of others whom we may wish well. We have every right to our interests, and they have every right to theirs. But the two are not necessarily coextensive.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Ghosts of Abkhazia, by Thomas de Waal

The National Interest, December 7, 2010 -- I slept badly in the Hotel Ritsa in Abkhazia. I had an unsettling dream in which I walked through an old house with an elderly Stalin, muttering malevolently to himself. In the morning, wondering who had disturbed my sleep, I had a long list of suspects from the other world.

Many of Abkhazia’s numerous ghosts must live within the walls of this whitewashed hotel. A convalescent Trotsky lived here in 1924 and gave a valedictory speech for Lenin from the first-floor balcony on the day of his old comrade’s funeral. Or I could have slept in the room of another of Stalin’s victims, the poet Osip Mandelstam. In 1993 the hotel produced more ghosts when it was burned to the ground in Abkhaz-Georgian fighting. It has only recently been rebuilt.

Pretty much everything about the past, present and future of Abkhazia is disputed. That includes the name of its capital city which the Georgians and most of the world still calls by the Georgian name Sukhumi and the Abkhaz call Sukhum. This is a city of absences. In the mid-nineteenth century, Abkhaz were deported to the Ottoman Empire for rebelling against the Imperial Russian Army. From 1877 to 1907 those who remained were banned from living in the city or along the Black Sea coast. Georgians, Greeks and Russians settled in their stead, shifting the demographic balance against the indigenous Abkhaz. In 1949 the Greeks were expelled en masse to Kazakhstan in one of the crazy Stalinist deportations. In 1992 most of the Abkhaz fled the city when the Georgian armed forces captured it, and the following year almost all the Georgians fled when the Abkhaz recaptured it. Seventeen years on, despite an influx of Russian money and a new crop of cafes and shops and reopening hotels, the streets of Sukhum(i) are still disfigured with ruins.

So anyone who talks about the history of Abkhazia should tread carefully. But that didn’t deter Russian parliamentarian Konstantin Zatulin from striding in here in boots and spurs. Zatulin, the mustachioed first deputy chairman of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Committee in the State Duma, looks and sounds like a czarist officer and subtlety is not his strong point. He is one of those who actively promoted Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and hailed the August 2008 war as a victory over the West. But he failed to notice the small detail that Abkhaz are pro-Russian much more by necessity than by natural enthusiasm. And when he criticized the textbook written by Abkhaz historian Stanislav Lakoba being taught in local schools, he hit a nerve.

Zatulin publicly castigated Lakoba for his textbook and insisted that Abkhaz had entered into “voluntary union” with the Russian empire in 1810 and always lived in harmony with Russians. After months of criticism, Lakoba responded with a magisterial article entitled “Zatulinism” in which he declared of the Russian parliamentarian, “Abkhazia can be congratulated. She now has a political censor.” In his article Lakoba firmly states that Russia is now Abkhazia’s main ally and should remain so, but he fires a warning shot against those Russians who, in his judgment, are repeating the Georgians’ error of assuming that the Abkhaz want to be part of their project and not have a project of their own: “Someone thought the Abkhaz people were too free and evidently decided to weaken and curb them, by depriving them of the main thing they have, their history.”

It is a mistake to criticize Lakoba here, because he bears the totemic name of his relative Nestor Lakoba, the popular Bolshevik leader who won Abkhazia a high level of autonomy and spared it from collectivization, before being poisoned by Stalin’s chief henchman, Lavrenty Beria. Nothing so dramatic will happen with the younger Lakoba, but drinking coffee with him in front of the Hotel Ritsa, I found a man who worries about what the Russians want from his homeland.

For most ordinary residents of Abkhazia this is a small matter. Disagreements with Russia over history textbooks or property rights are secondary to the opportunities that Russia gives them to receive pensions or passports. For them, put bluntly, Russia is the power which defeated Georgia and will stop the Georgians coming back. As the de facto prime minister, Sergei Shamba, put it to me, “We fought a war with Russia one hundred fifty years ago, we fought a war with Georgia eighteen years ago and Russia helped us in that war. That’s where the difference is.”

But the Lakoba-Zatulin row does remind us that you can’t usefully talk about the future of Abkhazia without recalling the ghosts of its past, distant as well as more recent.

Thomas de Waal is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

World's deepest cave - Krubera-Voronya Cave

Located in the Republic of Abkhazia, the Voronya Cave (Crows’ Cave, in Russian) plunges 7,188 feet (2,191 m) into the depths of the Arabika Massif, a limestone formation dating back to the Age of Dinosaurs. Also known as the Krubera cave (after Russian geographer Alexander Kruber), the cave was discovered in 1960 and has surpassed Austria’s Lamprechtsofen as the world’s deepest cave and the only known cave deeper than 2,000 meters (6,561.5 ft).

Thursday, 2 December 2010

President Sergey Bagapsh received the Abkhaz karatekas

SUKHUM, November 30 -- President Sergey Bagapsh received the Abkhaz karatekas - Dzhustan Tachulia, Tariel Chezhia, Alan Palavandzia, Akhra Enik who have won the Shotokan Karate World Championship in Mexico City and their coach, the president of the Karate Federation of Abkhazia Akhra Abukhba.

The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the State Committee on Youth and to Sports Raphael Ampar.

The head of state on behalf of the republic's leadership congratulated young athletes on their brilliant victory. “It is delightful that our athletes make us happy participating in prestigious international competitions”, the President said.

Sergey Bagapsh gave the credit for this victory to the State Committee on Youth and Sports, the coaches, adding that, certainly, that victory is a result of the talented young men's firmness of purpose.

The President emphasized that our athletes' victory is of big political importance. “Now and then our athletes do more to popularize our country than politicians do. We are proud of the fact that you have won such a significant tournament under our flag”, the President stressed. The head of state promised to support athletes.

The president of the Karate Federation of Abkhazia Akhra Abukhba told to the head of state about the tournament and about the Abkhaz karatekas' performance.