Voice of the Abkhazians

-------------------- News from Abkhazia --------------------

  ‘Abkhazia Day’  in Museum of Ethnography in Hamburg

Hamburg, ‘Abkhazia Day’ was held on 22 April, 2012, at Hamburg’s Museum of Ethnography under the rubric of the annual conference dedicated to the countries and peoples of the Caucasus. As the representative of the Republic of Abkhazia in Germany, Khibla Amichba, reported to ApsnyPress, papers on the history and ethnography of Abkhazia, the Abkhaz language, economics, and the art of our country were presented scientific. It was organized by the Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Abkhazia in Germany and the Abkhaz initiative group "Pro Abkhazia" in cooperation with the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg.


The Abkhazian delegation, headed by President of the World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza (Abaza) People, Taras Shamba, included: leading researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yuri Anchabadze; poet and ethnologist Dennis

Chachkhalia; Chairman of the Part of Economic Development of Abkhazia, Beslan Butba; Adviser to the President of the World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza (Abaza) People, Beslan Kobakhia; member of the Union of Journalists of the Republic of Abkhazia, Alexandr Neproshin; Chairman of the Abaza Association of Moscow, Muradin Urchukov; member of the Presidium of the "Union of Student-Asssociations" in Moscow, Marat Kamov.


Despite all the efforts of the Georgian side to put pressure on the organisers (most of all, on Museum Director, Professor Wulf Köpke) and to prevent the organisation of the conference, it was, according to participants, a great success. In his speech, Prof. Köpke said: "We, the Museum of Ethnography, have today focused our attention on an ancient people and their homeland. And no embassy can dictate to us how are we going to talk about it."


At the beginning of the conference a film about Abkhazia, sent by the governing body of the of Abkhazia’s State TV and Radio Company, was shown.


The papers delivered by Taras Shamba and Yuri Anchabadze dealt with: the stages of the historical path of the Abkhazians; the ‘Great Exile’ (makhadzhirstvo) and its consequences for the peoples of the North-West Caucasus; and Abkhazia in the context of the ethno-cultural world of the Caucasus.


Dennis Chachkhalia and journalist A.Yu.Neproshin spoke about German scholar-travellers and their explorations on Abkhazia, as well as about the aristocratic dynasties of Abkhazia.


Candidate of Philological Sciences, Khibla Amichba, devoted her speech to language as a source of information about history and ethnography, the actual problems of the Abkhaz and Abaza languages at home and abroad.


Professor Shenol Yaprak, Beslan Butba and M. Urchukov spoke on the economy of Abkhazia, the stages of its development, investment-projects and the economic resources of the country.


Candidate in Sociological Sciences Beslan Kobakhia addressed the question of the protection of the rights of peoples.


Violetta Rudat-Avidzba spoke about the traditional culture of the Abkhazians.


Representatives of the younger generation of the Abkhaz-Abazinian Diaspora read poems in their native language, and excerpts from the novels of Bagrat Shinkuba and Fazil Iskander in German. The programme was completed by performances of young musicians, representatives of the younger generation of the European Association.


The conference-guests represented almost all German cities, as well as Holland, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria.


The conference was attended by the chairmen of the two European Circassian Associations, Mr. Omer Tamzok and Mr. Levent Sürer. They invited the guests to participate in the Day of the Caucasus [Circassian] in the European Parliament in Brussels.


At the invitation of the organisers, the conference was attended by the Consul-Counsellor of the Russian Federation in Hamburg, Mr. Stankiewicz, and and by the Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Abkhazia in Bulgaria, Omer Marshan.


Another guest of the conference was a member of the von Oldenburg line, a descendant of Prince Alexander Petrovich Oldenburgskij, well-known in Abkhazia, Duke Huno von Oldenburg. He expressed his gratitude for the invitation and his hope for the continuation of the historical friendship with Abkhazia and its people.


The guests of the conference, coming from Russia and Abkhazia, presented to Professor. Köpke, to the leaders of the Circassian Associations, to the young representatives, and to the guests gifts and souvenirs from Abkhazia as mementos.


Both the speakers as well as the journalists attending from different countries noted the high information-content and the usefulness of holding such events in Europe, where Abkhazia is still very poorly known.


At the organised press-conference, the guests were asked questions by journalists from Germany and Turkey (one of the articles was published in the newspaper "Hürriyet” from 23 April 2012).


The Conference and its materials, which will be published in book-form and posted on the Internet, should contribute to the further establishment of diverse contacts between Abkhazia and European countries.


04.26.2012  APSUAA RIBJI


 The head of the MFA of Abkhazia: The country will be recognized despite pressure from the US


On the eve of his visit to the RF, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Chirikba talked to RIA Novosti’s special corrrespondent Andrei Malyshkin about who might recognize Abkhazia very soon, about the investigation into the attempt to assassinate President Aleksandr Ankvab, and about the Abkhaz caught up in the violence in Syria.

- During Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s last visit to Fiji it was reported that the Russian minister is trying to persuade that country’s leaders to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Is the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia conducting talks with the island state on that issue?

We are naturally interested in the broadest posible diplomatic recognition of the Republic of Abkhazia, and we are grateful to Russia for its assistance in this matter, which is of paramount importance to us. You know that three countries of the region – Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – have recognized Abkhazia’s independence and established diplomatic relations with it despite enormous pressure from the West. Just recently we had the honour of welcoming Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Willy Telavi in Abkhazia. And if the state of Fiji joins these three countries in this matter, we would only welcome that decision. I do not, however, have any information about any negotiations with the government of Fiji on this issue.


- Representatives of Abkhazia maintain active contacts with the countries of Latin America. Can we expect the recognition of Abkhazia by one of the countries of that region in the near future? If yes, then which country, given that this has been a topic of speculation for several years?

- Yes,  such diplomatic efforts are underway, but taking into account the pressure and even threats from the US directed against those countries that intend to take such a diplomatic step in the direction of recognizing us,  it is clear that the process will not be easy. The US and its closest allies have declared a veritable crusade against Abkhazia and South Ossetia emerging from international isolation and against their diplomatic recognition by various countries. Double standards clearly prevail in the West‘s position vis-a-vis the two young Caucasus states, especially against the background of their recognition of Kosovo’s independence. And the US, unfortunately, has numerous levers, especially economic ones. I am convinced all the same that in the 21st century, the century of globalization, it is impossible to isolate entire peoples, despite the efforts of some great powers. The process of recognition will continue.

- Do I understand you correctly as saying that in connection with pressure from the US one should not expect such countries as Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia to recognize Abkhazia in the near future?

- It is difficult to make any firm predictions in this regard. But the fact remains that the states that have recognized Abkhazia experience strong political and economic pressure from the US and the European Union. This factor certainly makes the process of recognition more difficult, including with regard to the countries you mentioned.

- If it is not a secret, then with which countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (the ALBA bloc) are Abkhaz diplomats conducting talks?

- The negotiations are not public, but the outcome, if it is positive, will immediately be made public knowledge.

- Please could you shed some light on the situation with regard to the recognition of Abkhazia’s independence  by the Pacific republic of Vanuatu? Have the Vanuatu authorities revoked their decision to recognize your country?

- The government of Vanuatu recognizes the Republic of Abkhazia. Ms. Te Moli Venaos Mol Saken Goiset has been appointed ambassador to Abkhazia.

- After the assassination attempt on the president of Abkhazia, Russia offered its help in investigating this crime and Russian FSB officers arrived in Sukhum. Aleksandr Ankvab himself said that the attackers may have arrived from abroad. How is the investigation proceeding, and is it possible to exclude „Georgian involvement“ in this crime?

The investigation is continuing. It is too early to speak of any „Georgian involvement.“

- There are some 10,000 Abkhaz living in Syria. Have the Abkhaz authorities received any formal statement from their co-ethnics saying they want to return to their historic homeland due to developments in Syria?

- We have already organized two missions to the Syrian Arab Republic to clarify the predicament of our co-ethnics in the crisis which has swept that country. Some 100 people have completed applications to be repatriated to their historic homeland, to Abkhazia. Their repatriation, in particular the question of obtaining Russian transit visas, is being coordinated between the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Damascus. The first repatriants have already arrived and we are awaiting the arrival of the others who have expressed a desire to return.

- When will the demarcation of the frontier between Russia and Abkhazia be completed, including the contested territory near the village of Aigba?

- There is an inter-governmental commission for the demarcation of the land and sea border between Russia and Abkhazia that meets regularly and discusses without fuss, in an atmosphere of calm and mutual trust, all relevant issues, including the disputed ones connected with the border. I think we shall be able to reach decisions that will satisfy both sides.


This interview was published by RIA Novosti and is translated from Russian.


04.15.2012  Abkhaz World


 Abkhazia Detains Six in President Assassination Attempt


Sukhum, Police have detained six people suspected of involvement in a February assassination attempt against Abkhaz President Alexander Ankuab, the republic’s Prosecutor General’s Office reported.


A remotely controlled mine blew up on February 22 morning as the presidential cortege was making its way to the republic’s capital of Sukhum, damaging an escort vehicle. Bodyguards shielded the president from the gunfire that followed the explosion. Two of the guards was killed and another was seriously injured.


Policemen have already searched the homes of the detainees, where they found assault rifles, pistols, a grenade launcher, night vision goggles and other ammunition, as well as illegal drugs, the prosecutor’s office said.


The names of the detainees and other details have not been disclosed in the interests of the ongoing investigation, the office added.


This was the sixth assassination attempt since 2005 against Ankuab, who served as prime minister in 2005-2010 and vice president in 2010-2011 before election as president in 2011. Two unsuccessful attacks were carried out in 2005. In 2007, he suffered a concussion and a shrapnel wound to the back when his car was fired on with a grenade launcher and in 2009 he was injured when his house was attacked with a grenade launcher.


04.13.2012  RIA Novosti


 Up to 30 people are ready to relocate from Syria to live in Abkhazia


President Aleksandr Ankuab chaired a meeting today devoted to the issue of the repatriation of compatriots currently living in the Syrian Arab Republic. Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Irakli Khintba, and the head of the State Committee for Repatriation, Zurab Adleiba, and his deputy Ahmad Marshan participated in the meeting.


Zurab Adleiba briefed the President on the visit to Syria. He said about 90 people are ready to return to their historic homeland in the course of the year. Today about 30 people, including some small children, are ready to travel to Abkhazia.


The Committee Chairman noted that they will provide material aid to those who are not in a position to pay their travel costs.


Ankuab expressed an interest in what kind of living conditions will be provided for the repatriants and what has already been done.


Zurab Adleiba said that the returnees will live in a hotel for four months, after which they will be offered housing in Gulrypsh Raion. Arrangements have been made to provide Abkhaz and Russian language lessons so the children will be able to attend school and the adults to find work.


Deputy Foreign Minister Irakli Khintba informed the President that they are coordinating activities with the Russian consulate in Syria. The consulate provides the necessary assistance to ethnic Abkhazians living in that country in solving problems that may arise.


Aleksandr Ankuab commented that the Abkhazians living in Syria should be informed what kind of living conditions await them in Abkhazia.


The President instructed the State Committee for Repatriation to begin immediately working on solving the logistical problems connected with the return of compatriots from Syria to the homeland.


Reported by the Information Department of the President of the RA.


04.09.2012  Apsnypress


 Interview of Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Abkhazia Irakli Khintba for the news-agency "ApsnyPress"


- Irakli Revazovich, Georgian media have repeatedly reported on the success of Georgia's strategy of "engagement through cooperation". As evidence, they say that the citizens of Abkhazia often visit Georgia to obtain medical treatment and other services. What is your commentary on this?

- The issue of health care is a purely humanitarian issue and should not be politicised. When it comes to saving human life, no-one can prohibit a person from receiving the necessary medical care. At the same time, I want to note that views of the "mass-character" of citizens of Abkhazia turning for medical help to hospitals in Georgia do not correspond with reality. It is necessary to distinguish actual from virtual reality, which latter is a formulation of Georgian propaganda. It is impossible to speak of any "success of Georgia's strategy". Not one of those who have travelled to Georgia and obtained medical assistance there have as result become loyal to the Georgian authorities. We trust our citizens, and so I'm absolutely convinced that these, let me emphasize, few trips to Georgia cannot so affect the consciousness of the citizens of Abkhazia that they will forget about the idea an Abkhazian independent state achieved at the cost of so much blood.


- And yet these trips are used by the Georgian authorities for propaganda purposes, as evidence of the increasing attractiveness of Georgia for the citizens of Abkhazia...


- The Georgian authorities are able to squeeze water from a stone; they make PR out of abolutely anything, and, in the realm of propaganda, they have achieved a lot. Indeed, these infrequent visits are treated by the Tbilisi authorities as an example of the effective functionality of the Georgian strategy of "soft engagement" of the Abkhazians. I do not deny that some political risk lurks here, because for us it is unacceptable that this strategy should gain minimal, even virtual, signs of viability in the eyes of the international community. And, of course, we will do our best to ensure that this Georgian initiative come crashing down. As for treatment, in the near future, there will be created in the Republic of Abkhazia all conditions for the provision of quality health-services to the public.


- What is the situation with the highly publicised action by the Georgian authorities to issue citizens of Abkhazia with so-called neutral passports?


- Neutral Passport are part of the same strategy. I once again express confidence that in our society this idea is absolutely devoid of any perspective. Firstly, these passports are not neutral, because there is a clear legal binding of these documents to the relevant Georgian structures. Secondly, the Georgian side has simply no legal basis to issue the so-called "neutral documents" to residents of Abkhazia, as they are not stateless persons. The purpose of this whole undertaking is to limit the rights of citizens of Abkhazia to free movement. With all the means at our disposal we shall continue to promote the idea of ​​recognition of Abkhazian international passports as travel-documents. Unfortunately, the agenda of the last round of Geneva talks was suspiciously shaped so that the discussion of this issue "was out of time."


- Do I understand that the purpose of the Georgian authorities today is maximum isolation of Abkhazia?


- You are absolutely right. I'm not even talking about the infamous and totally illegal law "On the Occupied Territories". Should not any self-respecting state be ashamed to pass a law according to which today it takes to court a Russian citizen just because he had previously entered the territory of Abkhazia via the ‘Psou’ checkpoint? Today we see the continuation of this discriminatory line also in specific decisions and actions of the Georgian authorities. Consider the following: demands for control over links between Abkhazia and any external actors; appeals to Western governments with the aim of placing a ban on citizens of Abkhazia obtaining visas in their Russian passports; pressure on international non-governmental organisations and commercial companies working in Abkhazia and with Abkhazia; persecution of our ambassadors and consuls in foreign countries; and much more.


- Are there any specific examples?


- Of course, a lot of them. I cite a recent example. We were quite surprised to learn that the other day, to put it mildly, ‘it was not recommended’ by the government of Georgia to a large delegation of deputies from the European Parliament and the Bundestag to visit our country. According to German press-reports, Saakashvili thought persons heading the delegation were ‘needlessly pro-Abkhazian’. Therefore, the funders financing the trip decided to cancel it for fear of persecution from Tbilisi. And, following this, did not someone in Tbilisi have the gall to allow himself to say that Abkhazia is allegedly cutting itself off from the international community?!


- We now turn to the history of the Georgian sailors, the handing over of whom to the Georgian side was coordinated by the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry. What commentary can you offer on the statement by the press-spokesman of the President of Georgia to the effect that the Georgian sailors were held captive in Abkhazia?


- Statements made by Ms. Mandzhgaladze are completely without foundation. Once again I shall relate the history of the matter. The Abkhazian authorities organised the transfer to the Georgian side of the citizens of Georgia, members of the crew of the «Hakki Chillioglu». The fact is that the vessel was outside the jurisdiction of Abkhazia, as, according to the norms of international maritime law, it has a status of extraterritoriality. Therefore, in order to organise the removal of sailors from the ship, their transportation to the border and transfer to the Georgian side, it was necessary to comply with all procedures defined by international law, in the first place to receive formal approval from the crew and find a replacement crew for the ship. This cargo-vessel has been in Sukhum Bay for more than nine months because it had problems with the steering. I also emphasize that the shipowner was heavily in debt to the crew and sea-port, with the result that the ship's captain and some of the crew decided to stay on board until the payment of the sums of money due to them. However, the owner was in no hurry to pay the debts, time passed, and the sailors remained on board. All this time, the Abkhazian authorities provided the necessary assistance to the crew-members. And also the International Committee of the Red Cross did not lose sight of the situation.


- Why was the decision was made to help in the transfer of the seafarers to the Georgian side?


- As a result of a recent storm, the freighter drifted out to sea. Its resources were exhausted; the crew had no reserves of water. In these circumstances, the government of Abkhazia decided to assist the citizens of Georgia who were in a difficult humanitarian situation and to arrange their transfer to the Georgian side. All relevant services of the Republic of Abkhazia were mobilised to ensure the safety of the crew of the ship. Sailors were visited by representatives of the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry and the Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross. From the crew a written certificate was received that they were voluntarily leaving the ship and would be sent to Georgia. In addition, the sailors confirmed in writing that the Abkhazian authorities had not exerted pressure on them and that they had received from them regular assistance. In attendance at the discussion with members of the crew was the head of the ICRC mission in Abkhazia, who confirms the friendly tone of the conversation and the lack of pressure on the Georgian sailors. It was also confirmed that the situation relating to their presence on board was due to unsettled working and economic disputes with the owner and has nothing to do with the nationality of the crew-members. Therefore, the asserton of the Georgian representatives that the sailors on board the ship were taken prisoner is totally absurd and a manifestation of an elementary ignorance of international law.


- Georgian President Saakashvili has even expressed gratitude to the Deputy Minister of Economics of Georgia, G. Karbelashvili, stressing that the Georgian side did everything for the release of sailors...


- Once again, I stress that this humanitarian action was solely an initiative of the Government of Abkhazia, and it was implemented in strict accordance with international law and national legislation of the Republic of Abkhazia. However, as I said earlier, the authorities in Tbilisi just love to make PR out of everything. The last thing on the mind of Georgian Economics’ Minister Vera Kobalia and her retinue when meeting the sailors on the Ingur bridge was paying attention to the sailors themselves, preferring to make "loud" declarations to camera. In these declarations, it is Mr. Karbelashvili, in particular, who is spoken of for having allegedly "conducted negotiations with the Abkhazian authorities" and having achieved "the release of the prisoners". More absurd and shameless lies it is difficult to imagine, although hardly surprising: after all, everyone has long grown accustomed to the fact that lies and provocations are for the current authorities in Tbilisi one of the principal means of achieving political goals. As for us, in regard to the situation with the Georgian sailors, we acted like the fully-fledged, sovereign, independent state that we are.


- What is the further fate of these sailors?


- I want to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, which coordinated the process of transfer, expressed the hope that the Tbilisi authorities would be able to secure and protect the rights of the sailors handed over to the territory of Georgia. I note that the Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia, Mr. Bokeria, confirmed that these poor sailors would not be harassed by the law-enforcement agencies of Georgia.


- Are we ready for dialogue with Georgia and, if so, on what issues?


- The problem here is that, even if we were now quite ready for this dialogue, the current regime in Georgia clearly has no intention of moving in this direction. The Tbilisi authorities themselves have placed themselves on the Procrustean bed of "the concept of the Russian occupation," which they want to take the place of a real solution to the conflict with Abkhazia. It is clear that, for Georgia's ruling élite, mobilisation of the factor of the Russian threat serves as a means of political self-preservation. But this is just a palliative, the use of which drives ever deeper the unsolved problems of Georgian-Abkhazian relations. Information about the formation in the Zugdidi district of informal armed groups against the backdrop of Georgia's unwillingness to sign an agreement with us not to use force also cannot help to settle the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and stabilise the situation in the region. Georgia must recognise Abkhazia at least as a party to the conflict and a subject in the negotiation-situation, although the current Georgian leadership is clearly not able to transcend the barriers it has itself constructed.


04.08.2012  Apsnypress


 Statement by Dieter Boden


In a press conference held in Tbilisi on 5 April the Georgian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nino Kalandadse, has attacked me for adopting unfriendly positions regarding her Government's policy line, in particular for critisizing as „illusionist“ official concepts on conflict resolution. Moreover, Mrs Kalandadse accused me to have compared Georgia with Nazi Germany using quotations which are not mine.


Mrs Kalandadse's Nazi argument is as infamous as it is unfounded. As for the conflict resolution issue, this obviously refers to Georgia's „State Strategy on Occupied Territories“. When it was first made public in January 2010 I have welcomed it wishing it every possible success. At a later stage, when it had become clear that tangible results were not achieved, I proposed that the „Strategy“ be reviewed in certain respects.


Mrs Kalandadse concludes that any further cooperation with me will be „restricted“ and that delegations in which I participate will not be received officially. As mentioned before, her arguments for this are more than shaky. Why then this reaction? Why did Mrs Kalandadse go public without undertaking the least attempt to speak with me directly and try to sort out misperceptions and misinterpretations as they obviously have occurred here?


It is for more than 4 years that I have worked in Georgia on various UN and OSCE conflict settlement missions and, more recently, as a consultant of the Robert Bosch Foundation. Never has there been any serious doubt about the benefit which this work has brought to Georgia. Repeatedly, I have received acknowledgments from the highest levels of Parliament and Government. As recently as on 19 November 2011 when I was received by President Saakashvili in Tbilisi in the framework of a delegation initiated by the Bosch Foundation and the German Marshall Fund the President has praised my contribution to conflict resolution in Georgia as extremely significant.


Now, to my deep regret, the press conference of Mrs Kalandadse has struck a completely different note. But let there be no doubt: I remain a friend and well-wisher of Georgia which implies that I will not refrain from criticism whenever the cause will require it. On this I am ready to argue with anyone in the Georgian Government who is good-willed and not „one-eyed“.


Dieter Boden, Potsdam, 6 April 2012


Source: abkhazworld.com


 Georgia said that would not have any official contacts with the famous diplomat Dieter Boden


Georgia said that would not have any official contacts with the famous diplomat Dieter Boden of Germany, the former head of the country of the OSCE mission and the UN, the correspondent of the newspaper LOOK in Tbilisi.


Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze on Wednesday said that contacts with Dieter Boden "limited." Dieter Boden continues to visit Tbilisi from the various European funds as an expert, it also happens in Abkhazia, which issues a few years ago, worked closely, suggesting cooperation between the sides of the formula.


Kalandadze said Dieter Boden "publicly criticizing the Georgian side's initiative (for conflict resolution), harmonized with international partners." According to her, "the Georgian government strategy in relation to the occupied regions, Dieter Boden, called illusory."


The deputy minister said in an interview with "InterPressNews", which is often said Dieter Boden, Georgian error by comparing it with the "Third Reich" and calls on Georgia to "apologize, as it once did Nazi Germany.' "Such a position is totally unacceptable for the Georgian side" - she said.


She noted that Georgia does not prohibit him to come, but will not take it at the official level delegations. The arrival of Dieter Boden was planned for this week.


04.06.2012  Apsnypress


 Abkhazian Foreign Ministry delegation headed by Minister Viacheslav Chirikba on a visit to Italy


An Abkhazian Foreign Ministry delegation, headed by Minister Viacheslav Chirikba, is in the Republic of Italy from 29 March.

On 30 March, the minister gave a press-conference at the Association of International Media in Rome, attended by a large number of Italian journalists and press-agencies.


The next day, V. Chirikba met reporters in the town of Pesaro. The press-conference found a resonance in Italian society. Several Italian media-outlets have published favourable reports of the visit of the Foreign Minister of Abkhazia.


On 1 April in Rome, Vjacheslav Chirikba held a meeting in the Italian Senate with representatives of the Human Rights' Committee and the Committee on International Relations. The situation in Abkhazia was discussed at the meetings.


The same day, the Foreign Minister of Abkhazia met with professors and lecturers of the University of Urbino. The leadership of the educational institution expressed its readiness to cooperate with the Abkhazian State University.


During his stay in Italy, the minister visited resident of Abkhazia Eslam Ladaria, who is receiving medical treatment in the city of Pesaro.


The visit of the delegation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia will continue until 4 April. Upon arrival in Abkhazia, the minister will hold a press-conference on the results of the visit to Italy for Abkhazia's media.


04.04.2012  Apsnypress


 Vyacheslav Chirikba: “Abkhazia without the Abkhaz people would merely turn into a second Sochi or Adler”


Abkhaz FM Vyacheslav Chirikba told VK about the main vectors of Abkhaz foreign politcies, about its relations with Russia, business connections with Turkey and the prospects of the further recognition of Abkhaz sovereignty.

- After the early presidential elections in Abkhazia there were discrepant rumors about Abkhaz-European relations. So are these relations broadening or widening?

- Today we are living in the time of the flourishing of these relations. Each week we greet a new European mission – and that hasn’t happened in a while. Moreover, Abkhazia is an active participant of the Geneva process, so there are really no reasons to think that we are winding up our relations with Europe.

- So how is this process going? Is there any hope of recognition from the part of the European states?

- We are disappointed by the fact that Europe ignores the democratic progress in Abkhazia. One might get the impression that the EU has no interest in the process of democratization of Abkhazia and whatsoever; it is only interested in how soon Abkhazia will be reintegrated into Georgia- which is never, by the way. So our relations with Europe are not being wound up, but there is a sense of frustration on our part. The latest resolutions of the European Parliament demonstrate that the people who don’t even know where Abkhazia is formulate resolutions accusing Abkhazia of violating human rights, of conducting ethnic cleansing and so on. European missions come here with moralizing preaching, but that gives nothing – nor financial help, nor visa policy amelioration. after the official proclamation of non-recognition of Abkhaz sovereignty the situation with visas is pretty bad. They don’t grant visas to those who wishes to receive medical treatment abroad, to tourists and businessmen. In this case Europe is just hiding behind the banner of human rights while in the same time violating these very rights. And we try to discuss this issue with all European commissions that come here.

- What is the process of non-issuance of visas? It is no secret that the majority of the population of Abkhazia has Russian passports.

- In the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Western countries a circular is being spread, according to which it is not recommended to issue visas to residents of Abkhazia, despite the presence of Russian passports. It can be found out through the place of registration that a person is living in Abkhazia, and the visa is being issued with difficulty or not issued at all. This, in fact, violates one of the basic human rights - the freedom to leave one’s country and return to it. All their talk about human rights is worth nothing, because they violate them flagrantly. It turns to be a kind of collective punishment. The examples of two countries - Northern Cyprus and Kosovo - are indicative. European countries do not recognize their independence, yet give their citizens visas. I am trying to make it clear to our European colleagues, but so far nothing has changed. After the declaration of the policy of non-recognition and involvement, a strange situation emerged: maximal rejection and minimal involvement.

- Hungarian MEP Béla Kovács went to the election as an observer. Was there a discussion on the prospects for the recognition of Abkhazia on the part of Hungary?

- No, there was no talk about it. The current EU is a bit like the Soviet Union - they have a common foreign policy. And despite the fact that some European countries have the right to recognize or not recognize a state, now this is unlikely to happen.

- What are the foreign policy priorities of Abkhazia at the moment?

- We have excellent relations with the Russian Federation, with the Foreign Ministry of Russia. Russia is our strategic partner and a friend, but we try to develop relations also with the countries of the region. Of course, relations with Georgia develop with difficulty, since we are technically in a state of war. We are trying to develop relations with Turkey - we have established strong economic ties; moreover, Turkey has a large Abkhazian diaspora. The relations with Turkey at the moment are mainly economic in nature, although during the visit of Sergei Bagapsh to Turkey other issues were discussed too, including the opening of a ferry service between Abkhazia and Turkey, so that the Turkish Abkhazians would be able to visit their relatives freely. We are also developing relations with our partners - countries that have recognized us. We have recently signed an agreement with the Prime Minister of Tuvalu for visa-free travel.

- What are the relations with the Abkhaz diaspora abroad?

- These issues are dealt with by the repatriation committee, it is their task. Recently, a mission traveled to Syria, and about a hundred people there expressed their desire to return to their historic homeland. They work closely with the Russian embassy in Damascus. We are ready to provide the opportunity to come here for those wishing to do so - there is a program for their resettlement, employment, language training, and subsidies – this is being done by the repatriation committee. And we are helping in political issues and the coordination of this process.

- There is a view, according to which the return of the descendants of Muhajirs may lead to the arrival of radical Islam in Abkhazia. How justified are these concerns?

- There has been no case when radicals came here, all have been law-abiding citizens. I often visit Turkey, and I can say that Turkish Abkhazians are not inclined to religious radicalism. The main threat of Islamic radicalism to Abkhazia comes not from Turkey or Syria, but from the North Caucasus. Political Islam penetrates the North Caucasus, where there is a certain underground and for us it is actually a serious threat. The worst thing for Abkhazia would be a division of society along religious lines. Abkhazian society has always been tolerant, and we have no tradition of religious conflicts.

- Are there any plans to establish contacts with Georgia? Is Georgia undertaking steps in the framework of the adopted strategy for the occupied territories?

- All Georgia’s actions in relation to our country have only one purpose - to integrate Abkhazia into Georgia. They did not manage to do it by force, and now they are looking for other ways to try to convince the West that it is possible. We are neighbors, and I am sure that in the long term we will restore good relations. But until the conflict has ended and a peace treaty has been signed with Georgia, we are technically at war. All of Georgia's actions after 1993 were aimed at destabilizing the situation in Abkhazia, and many statements in the Geneva discussions are anti-Abkhazian: Abkhazia has been called a puppet of Russia, occupied territory, and so on. Georgia does not attempt to realistically assess the situation and come to pragmatic solutions. Georgia has driven itself into a corner, and so far we have not seen any figure in the Georgian leadership who would act from a moderate position, not to mention a realistic position. This is a government of revanchists, and while it is in power the conflict will not end. Our goal is to entirely restore relations with Georgia on the basis of mutual recognition, mutual friendship and good neighborliness. Some day it will happen, but so far such a prospect is remote.

- Many experts express concerns about the fact that the major leadership positions in Abkhazia are held by ethnic Abkhaz, while for ethnic minorities it is hard to get into power and financial flows, which are almost entirely in the hands of Abkhazians.

- Yes, the majority of leadership positions in Abkhazia are held by ethnic Abkhazians. But the Abkhazians, in fact, are the majority of Abkhazia's population, according to the latest census. After the war of 1992-1993 the Abkhazians have been and continue to be the most politically active force in Abkhazia. Speaking about the war, most of those who fought and who died were ethnic Abkhazians. Abkhazia without Abkhazians would not exist - it would turn into Sochi or Adler. Moreover, other communities are not so politically active, why this is so is another question. There is a Russian community, but it is small, the Armenian one is partially fragmented - all these factors affect the existing balance of power in varying degrees. We should move to greater diversity in the government, to a more equitable representation of ethnic groups in the government. The present situation is difficult to change by some regulation or law; it must be done in an evolutionary way.

Interviewed by Maria Platonova, Sukhum. Specially for VK.


04.03.2012  Vestnik Kavkaza


 Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia


The Abkhaz side expresses serious concern in relation to the statements made by one of the Georgian opposition leaders Irakli Alasania to the Georgian mass media, where he blamed the leadership of Georgia for the creation of an illegal armed unit in close vicinity to the Abkhaz borders.


Creation of such armed units demonstrates the intent of the Georgian leadership to continue a policy of terror and intimidation as in Georgia as in the bordering Gal district of Abkhazia. There is no doubt that the activity of these units will contribute to further escalation of the situation in the region.


During the whole post-war period Georgia has been using illegal armed units to escalate and destabilize the situation in the Gal district. Apparently, such a policy still dominates in the Georgian approach to Abkhazia, which is demonstrated by the increase of incidents leading to human casualties in the Gal district.


In consideration of all the above-mentioned, the Abkhaz side appeals to all the participants of the Geneva discussions to pay attention to the Georgian actions, which jeopardize security in the whole region, and calls upon the international facilitators and the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia to influence Georgia and to take all the necessary measures to prevent escalation of the situation in the Abkhaz territory close to the border with Georgia.


Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the republic of Abkhazia