Lorik Marshania The Chair of the Council of the Movement "Peace and Revival of
Abkhazia" Academician of the Abkhazian Academy
PUBLIC DIPLOMACY - MORE REAL AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO SOLVE THE CONFLICT IN ABKHAZIA
It is a time for the victims of the tragedy of Abkhazia to decide their future themselves by activating the society, people, and national diplomacy.
The ethnic parallels between Abkhazians and Georgians go back to ancient times, testifying genetic and cultural unity of our historical fate. Perhaps, there are no closer nations in the world than Abkhasians and Georgians coming out from Abkhazia. Common conceptions, traditions, similar economic interest and ties, one native land and last of all, kinship (40% of families are blood-related), not to speak about customs and manners, some characteristics of their lifeway and even religion - make the basis of the two nations' affinity that was formed historically.
Being joined with Georgia Abkhazia preserved its ethno-historical territory, it own nature. Not any of autonomous republics from the former Soviet Union could develop its national economy, social sphere, language, literature, science, culture, trained staff so well, as Abkhazia could.
Abkhazia is the only autonomous republic in the former USSR, the constitution of which had the paragraph about its official language - the Abkhazian language.
Our people never fought with each other. Certainly there was offence in our historical lifetime, in justice, misunderstandings, but intellect and kindness overcame evil, distrust and intrigues of agent - provocateurs.
And at the beginning of XXI century, in the epoch of flourishing civilization of the world, in the period of the triumph of humanism and democratic principles and defense of human rights in most countries, the group of Abkhazian separatists coming to the power provoked the war after the long and through preparation.
The conflict in Abkhazia is the most complicated, contradictional, unpredictable among those, taking place in the former USSR since 1985. In this conflict there is no unequivocally guilty or not guilty side and hence there is neither winner nor the defeated. Nearly six years passed insight tragedy in Abkhazia and its consequences are catastrophic:
The expelled residents, the largest group of refugees - 250 thousand Georgians, 50 thousand Abkhazians, 50 thousand Armenians, 55 Thousand Russians, thousands of Greeks, Estonians, and so on. 20 thousand innocent dead people created heavy economical and social situation and emotionally negative background in the country. Today hundreds of thousand people are homeless, unemployed, became poor without fixed wages and their human rights are roughly humiliated. Frequently deceived and hopeless, the expelled people turn to marginal groups.
In spite of reached military success, present Abkhazia didn't gain any significant dividends. Declaration of self-independence as a result of elections, where the most Abkhazian population didn't take part, wasn't recognized as it contradicts international norms. Practically the economy is absolutely destroyed and this negative background gave rise to the social tension and intensified the total criminogenic situation.
We are sure that Abkhazians have already realized: the true enemies are those, inspiring the war and involving them in military gamble bringing disaster to the whole population and first of all to Georgians. Even being under the Turkish Yoke they weren't physically eliminated. This was the political mistake made by the both sides with the help of treacherous "third side".
The fate of thousands of Russians, Armenians, Greeks and representatives of other nationalities appeared to be very hard. Because of systematic shelling of towns and countries, destruction, robbery, starvation and cold - the citizens had to leave their house, the borders of Abkhazia. In this connection, it's necessary to name the guilty forces in the tragedy of Abkhazia.
Acknowledging, that Russia is a great Sovereign State, our real, eternal neighbor, allied economically and strategically, still it seems a paradox that their present government carries and strategically, still it seems a paradox that their present government carries a double-dealing policy concerning Abkhazian-Georgian problem. The thing is that, though recognizing territorial integrity of Georgia de-jure, Russia still supports the separatist leadership of present Abkhazia de facto. What international legislative norm could be carried in such nonsense? The world society as well as Russia unanimously condemned separatism in any region of the world and recognized unreservedly the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries including Georgia; but still it didn't take any practical steps during six years to restore Georgia's territorial integrity.
For the most part the tragedy in Abkhazia took place mainly in the period of present Russian government, proclaiming democracy in the country, declaring themselves peacemakers and warrants of peace and stability in the world. When the problem of peace and war concerned the far abroad - as in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Mr. Chernomirdin made intensive tours and negotiations with the leaders of different countries, even in the South Caucasus. The searched support in ceasing the fire in Yugoslavia as well as "safe return of refugees to their native homes". But why the Russian leadership does not worry about the spots in "near abroad" and about the fate of refugees (in Abkhazia, Karabakh...)? Aren't these regions of vital interest for Russia any more? Concerning the problem of Abkhazia the Russian government is devoted to its historical principle "Divide and Rule". Concerning this problem the former chairman of KGB of the former USSR writes: "The republics of the Union expressing obstination, were facing the problem of international fronts". KGB was inspiring, stimulating the split of the society into two implacable camps in such republics. The working scheme was: if you don't want to obey, have the interfront, that will bring the strikes, will rise the question of borders as well as the problem of elected legitimate authorities. KGB was managing to present the activity of such interfronts as the "will of people".
Making a report at the Academy of Sciences in Georgia in 1994, the president of Russia Mr. Eltsin declared: "... in Abkhazian tragedy Russia can be doomed guilty to a certain extent..." Five years had passed and no one could decode what is Russia's share' in the conflict.
Isn't it time to call a spade a spade? It is not a secret furthermore, where and why was inflamed the tratricidal war and separatism, supported by Russia ... Today everyone knows the aims of the organizers of the conflict in Abkhazia and not only there; it was the division of Georgia, drawing Russia into the war (e.g. in Chechnya). For the most part, abkhazian conflict isn't a local matter. Nearly in every republic of the former USSR fratricidal conflict took place. The aim was that the development of democratic processes carried the policy to make and keep conflict atmosphere in the regions of the former empire. The antagonism arose between the developed democracy and the overboard revanchism that found its foothold in some regions including Abkhazia.
Ideological inspirers of the tragedy were and are the famous, the so called Russian "Ravks" - Lukianov, Zatulin, Zuganov, Baburin, Zhirinovski, Mitrophanov, Tikhonov... Executors were - the aggressive generals; Kolesnikov, Baluevsky, Chindarov, Sorokin, Sigudkin ... It was exactly Kolesnikov - the former head of the Russian General Staff, having a report at the session of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in October 1993, declared that in October 18, Sukhumi will be captured. On September 25, 1992 - the Supreme Soviet of Russia adopted the declaration about supporting Abkhazia. The separatist got armament, heavy fighting equipment, money. Russia gave tee credit of about 14 milliard rubles. Famous ('a lawyer on his father's side') Zhirinovsky goes much further than his colleagues and in State Duma he declares: "To my mind, it's necessary to withdraw our troops from Georgia and from Caucasus. Then Georgia will disintegrate into states: Adjara, South Osetia, Javakheti, Abkhazia - and will join Russia. There is no need to go on anywhere for the negotiations, the delegations themselves will arrive to the Kremlin. They will be standing in the line". The same treacherous idea is seen in the report of Duma commission about geopolitical issues: "Even now and then, in the future it is obvious that Abkhazia, South Osetia and somehow Adjara are allied to Russia judging from their relationship with Georgia".
As a result in September 1993, Sukhumi and the whole Abkhazia fell with the help of Russian regular army using all kinds of modern weaponry, including aviation (SU-25 and 27 jets), semitone and cluster bombs. This way, the so called 'Hawks' of Russia unfamiliarity intervene in the matters of neighboring, sovereign countries. They only in words and not practically recognize the territorial integrity of Georgia. Still, being in economical blockade and the fact, that it can't set on foot, unmannered and wild speculation of Abkhazian nation in reality if 65% of them immigrated - so are, even Abkhazians the refugees? Who do the representatives of State Duma shed tears over? About whose self-determination do they speak, if the right of self-determination is given to the nations and not only to single nation by means of referendum. The peacekeeping forces being in the conflict zone, are the forces that in fact made the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. Their five-year-stay is marked by 1,5 thousand victims from both opposite sides and more than 60 killed soldiers from the peacekeeping forces. So, it is useless to leave them in the conflict zone, if they have no right and aren't authentically enough to guarantee the safe return of their native homes.
However the life continuous. It is appropriate to recollect some statements of famous Abkhazian public figures and scientists about Abkhazian and Georgian relationship.
Even at the IX Congress of Communist Party of Georgia in 1925, the first leader of communists Abkhazia N.Lakoba said: "Separation of Abkhazia from Georgia will bring it to the disintegration the same way as the house of cards - built by a little boy's mischievous hand".
The outstanding Abkhazian public figure and writer D.Gulia wrote: "We built our culture on the same land under one sky, together defending our nationalities and the land. It won't be enough to say that we are fraternal nations. We have similar psychology and mentality, the same customs and traditions. There is no closer brother for a Georgian than an Abkhazian one. An Abkhazian, in his turn, can say the same about a Georgian. This brotherhood of nations survives us and if any wants destroy it, he is the enemy of himself".
One can't read without the pain in his heart the lines of a theatrical figure, the talented producer Nelly Ashba. She writes: "What is happening? Why did it happen that those who had to love, considered to be an enemy? Are we too many? Who is responsible for the death of Bichiko Baramia, Zelimkhan Danelia and other Georgians who had been living in Abkhazia so long? We never distinguished people by nationality, we simply were "Sukhumites". In which points are you much better than Gamsakhurdia, who proclaimed: "Georgia for Georgians"! So Abkhazia is for Abkhazians? We have the same roots, many blood - related families. What will those do, whose mothers are Georgians and fathers - Abkhazians, or vice versa?
Isn't it time for us all to realize what had happened to us? Why did it happen so, that the relatives, friends, neighbors during 2000 year in past, in a minute turned to be enemies, directed lethal weapon to each other with the help of the "Third power"?
Being neither in war nor in peace, this situation doesn't suit the citizens of Abkhazia. The holy duty for both - Abkhazians and Georgians - is to do everything for mutual understanding and restoring peace. We must realize that reconciliation is the obligation of the nations, suffered in the tragedy.
At the present stage, perhaps, the moratorium on accusing each other should be announced, to fined out "who started it first, who had done more crime" etc. So the both sides of the conflict must defend their interests. To find out the truth, everyone must confess fatal mistakes and make an effort to understand the opposite side's viewpoint. The dialogue between Abkhazia and Georgia should be oriented on future, on having normal relationship, in finding mutual acceptable conditions for peace, on creation of new relations.
The non-stop negotiations of the two sides from year to year didn't bring any practical results, on the contrary, they brought us to the Gali tragedy. The more the politicians of the sides and mediators, delay the negotiations and play for time, the heavier will be the responsibility and the burden to carry. It is obvious for everyone that there is no any alternative ideas, that all without an exception, whose native land is our long-suffering region, who permanently lived in Abkhazia, must return to their houses, work in friendship and agreement. This will be only half work. It is important "to stick together the broken vessel", to restore the former relationship inherited from our ancestors, to follow the traditions of mutual understanding and respect the soul entity of our nations. All these values were dismissed with a mad wave of a hand by position and war searching politicians.
If we want to find the way of mutual understating, first of all we must grant an amnesty to all, who took part in the armed conflict; to those who were under delusion, evilly deceived and drawn in military gamble by the initiators of opposition. It's necessary to observe the norms for recognizing the principles of human rights, to outlaw any attempt of lynching, personal revenge, violence etc.
It's time to get free from confrontational psychology, from stereotyped, conflicting mentality to give up the striving for creation "the image of an enemy". Both sides should: overcome the pain and insult, forget their hostility, find the strength to announce for all to hear about it; hold out their hands to restore mutual understanding, consent and peace.
We are sure that there is the chance to set the Abkhazian nation on its feet, to find the common language for reconciliation with most reasonable but expelled Georgians; the later must be returned to their native homes and together with multinational population restore the peace, revive their economics and spiritual life in Abkhazia.
The great role will play in the peacekeeping process the mixed, Abkhazian-Georgian families, the blood-related people. They can and ought to help to create the atmosphere of reliability and mutual understanding between our nations; to say the weighty and decisive word for achieving peace and content. Russians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Greeks, Estonians and representatives of other nationalities must promote the stabilization in Abkhazia. These people were one third of the whole population. Their right and obligation together with the natives, on an equal level take part in the development and strengthening economics, spiritual life, culture on the territory they were born, live and work in spite of their historical motherland.
Political ideology of future Abkhazia must work on the decision of an important problem - upbringing the young generation. This very complicated work must be done systematically, starting from the family and nursery schools to school and high schools or colleges. It is of vital importance to bring up the young generation with healthy conviction: that we and first of all the natives - Abkhazians and Georgians are "the brothers in this world". It's time to face each other for common interests, for the future of our peoples.
As it is known, both sides, are right, but the truth is one. And until we by joint efforts find the truth it will be impossible to come to mutual understanding on the new basis. It's important to revive former friendship and relations between Abkhazians and Georgians. We ought to do this for the benefit of our generation.
It is high time to realize that the quick decision of the problem depend on all of us, on our active position in order to make the peace and consent, to return the refugees to their native homes and to restore the former relationships. Both sides must draw conclusions containing self-criticism taking into consideration the mistakes made before.
It is high time that the victims of the tragedy themselves must decide their fate by the total social activity.
Recently founded non-governmental social movement "Peace and Revival of Abkhazia" appeal for the amalgamation of all internally displaced persons and refugees on the voluntary basis, despite their nationality, political viewpoint and religion. Their aim is to find peaceful, political ways for the decision of problems in Abkhazia and returning the expelled to their native homes.
At present stage the movement thinks that the main and basic way to solve the problems of Abkhazia is all-round activation of the role of national diplomacy.
The mission of national diplomacy is to find immediate contact with the Abkhazian people, provoke them for open dialogue, take from temporizing position to action. The political peaceful way to solve the Abkhazian problems presumes bilateral and inter-Abkhazian negotiations, private contacts, group meetings.
The Council of the Movement "Peace and Revival of Abkhazia" offers to all non-governmental organizations, societies, groups, private persons concerning with peaceful, political regulation of the problems to activate the mechanism of national diplomacy, also to collaborate with it according to the charter of the Movement.
The Movement is ready to collaborate with the public active members in Abkhazia itself and out of it. These are: the elders, war and labor veterans, women, especially the mothers whose sons died, the religious figures, scientists (from the Academy of Sciences in Abkhazia), the youth, intelligentsia, figures of culture, literature, art etc.
The Movement publishes the newspaper "Abkhazia" as the means of contact for both sides in the development and deepening the national diplomacy. It may be beginning of the dialogue as well.
For the copy of the paper "Abkhazia" the Council of the Movement asks the heads of the above mentioned groups to present the addresses to the colleagues in Abkhazia and out, in order to meet, contact and start the dialogue about the peaceful, political solution of the problem; first of all about the return of the refugees, to determine their status, to have guarantee of the security of the population to revive economics in Abkhazia and so on. With the same aim the Movement appeals to blood-related Abkhazian-Georgian families and to all from Abkhazia-Russians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Greeks, Estonians, etc. Who live there or are out of its borders, response our proposals and take an active part in the discussion.
The special hopes falls on mass media to support and popularize the program of the movement's role and aims of national diplomacy in peaceful and political regulation of Abkhazian problems.
We hope that with common effort of people who suffer from the tragedy of Abkhazia and the progressive mankind of the world, with the help of activation of national diplomacy will come to mutual understanding, to peace and consent, to the revival of demographic, economic and spiritual life on the grateful Abkhazian territory.
The future of Abkhazia is - the new democratic elections, its political status with great legitimate rights in the united, undivided Georgia.
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