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.
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
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."
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.
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
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
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
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.
conference-guests represented almost all German cities, as well as
Holland, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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
The investigation is continuing. It is too early to speak of any
- 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
- 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.
interview was published by
RIA Novosti and is translated from Russian.
04.15.2012 Abkhaz World
Abkhazia Detains Six
in President Assassination Attempt
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.
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.
Interview of Deputy
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Abkhazia Irakli Khintba for the
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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“.
Boden, Potsdam, 6 April 2012
Georgia said that
would not have any official contacts with the famous diplomat Dieter
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,
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.
Ministry delegation headed by Minister Viacheslav Chirikba on a visit to
An Abkhazian Foreign Ministry delegation,
headed by Minister Viacheslav Chirikba, is in the Republic of Italy from
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.
“Abkhazia without the Abkhaz people would merely turn into a second
Sochi or Adler”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
there any plans to establish contacts with Georgia? Is Georgia
undertaking steps in the framework of the adopted strategy for the
- 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.
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
Interviewed by Maria Platonova, Sukhum.
Specially for VK.
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
Source: Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of the republic of Abkhazia