Voice of the Abkhazians

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

 Viacheslav Chirikba met the Co-Chairmen of the Geneva discussions


Sukhum, On November 17, 2011, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia, Viacheslav Chirikba met the Co-Chairmen of the Geneva discussions: EU Special Representative Philippe Lefort, UN Special Representative Antti Turunen, OSCE Special Representatives Pádraig Murphy and Giedruis Cekuolis.


The meeting took place in a usual business-like manner. Special representatives made positive comments on the work of all parties in the Geneva discussions. According to the guests, the visit was aimed at the discussion of the agenda of the next round of Geneva discussions which will take place on December 14, 2011.


During the meeting, the Abkhaz side stated its intention to raise at the next round of Geneva discussions the issue of abductions of residents of the Gal district of Abkhazia by Georgian special services. According to Chirikba, cases, when Georgian authorities detain at the Georgian border residents of the Gal district and charge them with various crimes, including such serious ones as terrorism, became more frequent. Minister also stressed that the imprisoned persons have no opportunity to resort to assistance of independent lawyers and their relatives are unable to obtain any information about their fate and meet them. Detainees are sentenced to different terms of imprisonment, some even up to 30 years.


Viacheslav Chirikba drew the attention of Special Representatives to the need to address this issue and stressed the inadmissibility of the actions by Georgian authorities, who use such harmful methods of intimidation and pressure against residents of the Gal district of Abkhazia.


Both sides also exchanged views on future prospects of the Geneva discussions and penti-partite Incidents Prevention and Response Mechanism, noting the need to guarantee security in the conflict zone.


11.17.2011  mfaabkhazia


 Commentary on the Resolution of the European Parliament for Georgia, 17 November 2011


By Iraklii Khintba - On 17 November 2011, the European Parliament by a majority vote adopted a resolution on Georgia, which the government of Saakashvili has already christened "historic". The resolution’s text comprises exceptionally strong language, unusual in the rhetoric of European representatives: “to recognise the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as occupied territories”, “to call upon Russia to withdraw the recognition of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and stop the occupation”, “to welcome Georgia’s Strategy on [the] Occupied Territories and Action Plan as an effective instrument to promote reconciliation”, etc...


This resolution, from a purely formal viewpoint, may be deemed a definite achievement for Georgian  diplomacy. However, in essence it is another example of the advancing of a fallacious and ineffective strategy regarding the post-August reality vis-à-vis the South Caucasus. To ignore the existence of the ethno-political Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and the problems surrounding the ethnic compatibility between Georgians and Abkhazians after the bloody war of 1992-93, concealing all this under the guise of confrontation between Georgia and Russia and a purely mythical occupation, is utterly useless from the point of view of the actual situation on the ground in the region and the still unresolved conflicts.


It should be underlined that this resolution has a recommendatory character, and yet it is hardly able to achieve any cardinal changes in the region. Furthermore, it is unlikely that it will have any influence whatsoever on the official rhetoric of those European officials who participate directly in what is going on with regard to the unsolved Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. And there is absolutely no doubt that even such toughly worded formulations will not make Russia abandon its own national interests and obligations.


Another matter is that the adopted resolution strikes yet another blow on the negative image of Europe and the West as a whole that has already formed in the consciousness of the people of Abkhazia. The majority, who do not scrutinise the refinements and nuances of European politics with regard to the Southern Caucasus, are more and more disposed against Western influence in their country. As a result, the legitimacy of any possible joint-action in the sphere of culture, education and democratic development might be lost. Who will be the winner here? I do not think that it will be Europe.


If one speaks of specifics, the peremptory nature of the formulations contained in the resolution is surprising. And the resolution itself looks extremely partial and unjust. Attention can be drawn to the fact that in the preamble there is no reference to any document or evidence that takes into account the position of the authorities of Abkhazia, whereas there is mention of Mikheil Saakashvili’s speech in the European Parliament is indicated. It is clear that no groundwork had been done for the collection of facts, just as the position of the Abkhazian side was not listened to and its opinion was simply ignored.


Conclusions are drawn in the resolution regarding the “occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia” without any definition of clear criteria for “occupation” or the application of appropriate argumentation and facts. Not one of those who voted for the resolution bothered to find the time to visit Abkhazia and see everything with their own eyes. For example, where did information about “ethnic cleansings” come from? Nothing of the kind has appeared in any document, even the most critical, regarding Abkhazia since 2008. Why has it become possible to adopt such an unprecedentedly biased document?


In our opinion, quite apart from other reasons, there is a prosaic political logic at work here: after the “bitter pill” it is necessary to offer a “sweet bon-bon”. Georgia had to abandon its basic negotiating position on Russia's WTO accession under pressure from the West. Having withdrawn its demand for Georgian custom officials to be present at the Russian-Abkhazian border on the River Psou, Tbilisi, one can say, has recognised these borders as not its own. A private audit at the border will quickly in time become a mere formality, and, after three years can be done away with altogether. Moreover, in Georgia irritation has long been brewing over the unwillingness of European officials to identify for Tbilisi at least some prospects of EU membership. We recall how the bitterness of another failure in fixing the time-frame for membership of NATO was similarly sweetened for Tbilisi by means of the odious Resolution of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly, adopted a few days before the Lisbon Summit.


In general, the said resolution once again marks out a problem that prevents the effective participation of the EU in resolving the conflicts and promoting development in the Southern Caucasus. In particular, it undermines the efforts of the EU Southern Caucasus office regarding cooperation with Abkhazia. If the Abkhazian authorities are just puppets who decide nothing, as follows from the resolution, then why do European officials visit Sukhum and meet with Abkhazian officials? However, just recently, the new EU Special Representative for the Southern Caucasus, F. Lefort, visited Sukhum and noted the importance of contacts with the authorities of the republic.


Consequently, the main problem is the total lack of coordination in Europe’s involvement in the region. Firstly, there is lack of agreement at the level of EU policy-formulation, comprising rivalry between the branches of European power, and within certain structures (opposition between K. Ashton and P. Semneby). Secondly, there is a dramatic gap in the real understanding of the situation existing between a small number of EU officials and the expert-groups supporting them, on the one hand, and the bulk of not only European officials and MEPs, but Europeans in general, on the other hand. The crises that are shaking the European Union at the present time have an impact on this situation.


As a result, we have a resolution that has little impact on the rhetoric and political tactics of Europeans who interact directly with Abkhazia, and which, naturally, will have no bearing on Russian politics but will clearly worsen the overall perception of the West in the eyes of the residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If the adoption of such a one-sided resolution is also able to encourage the morale of the Georgian leadership, then it is doubtful that it can play a positive role in strengthening stability in the Southern Caucasus.


11.17.20111  ALLS Independent Media Monitoring Team


 Abkhazia sent bottled water to Tuvalu


Sukhum, Abkhazia has come to the aid of Tuvalu, as it recovers from its fresh water emergency. Tuvalu islands declared state of emergency over the acute water shortage. This water scarcity affected the capital Funafuti and other localities.


According to the head of Tuvalu's national disaster committee Pusinelli Laafai, right now the donated container with bottled water is at the warehouse awaiting distribution.


The supply was among the relief from several nations coordinated through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Suva.


11.16.2011  mfaabkhazia


 Friendship group Venezuela-Abkhazia installed in National Assembly


On Wednesday, it was installed in the National Assembly the friendship group Venezuela-Abkhazia. The president of the National Assembly, Fernando Soto Rojas, and other lawmakers attended the ceremony.


The Ambassador of the Republic of Abkhazia, Zaur Gvadzhava, thanked Venezuelan parliamentarians for this initiative that shall contribute with the legislative exchange of experience and it is a vital rapprochement for the strategic alliances of the new world's blocs of power.


Deputy Orangel Lopez was appointed to preside over the group.


The Republic of Abkhazia is located in the Caucasus and it was part of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).


The aim of Parliamentary Groups is to foster and maintain friendship with, and understanding of, particular countries through links with national legislatures.


11.14.2011  mfaabkhazia


 Abkhazia will not allow on its territory any international monitoring


Sukhum, In connection with the negotiation-process between Russia and Georgia on Russia's accession to the WTO, social and political organisations of the Republic have issued statements expressing concern about possible negative consequences of these arrangements for the national sovereignty of our Abkhazia. Moreover, the said issue rouses concern throughout the whole of Abkhazian society.


The country's leadership understands and respects this. The Abkhaz side has already officially expressed its position in connection with the possible monitoring of freight transported across the Russian-Abkhazian border. The fact is that the Republic of Abkhazia will not allow on its territory any international monitoring organisations. This position will remain unchanged.


Not being a party to the negotiations between Russia and Georgia on Russia's WTO accession, Abkhazia did nevertheless hold consultations with our Russian partners on this issue. We can say that, when agreeing to an international audit on its own territory, the Russian Federation in no way questioned the state-sovereignty of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Act of Recognition of the Independence of the Abkhazian state.


In this regard, the Government of the Republic of Abkhazia is confident that there will be no restriction or inconvenience placed on the normal functioning of Abkhazia’s cross-border business.


These issues are regularly discussed at the diplomatic level with our Russian colleagues.


This information is provided by the Office of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia.


11.09.2011  mfaabkhazia


 No more minefields in Abkhazia


Sukhum, The British-registered HALO Trust charity has cleared the last of minefields in Abkhazia, a spokesman for the NGO said.


HALO Trust, which has been working in Abkhazia since 1997, has destroyed 9,788 landmines and about 50,000 items of ordnance and cleared 366 minefields.


The Abkhazian authorities describe HALO Trust’s results as impressive.


About 500 civilians were killed by landmines in Abkhazia since 1993, and 10 demolition engineers were injured.


11.02.2011  The Voice of Russia


 In Sukhum a monument has been set up to the victims of the political repressions of the 1930-40s.

Sukhum, In Sukhum, in the square in front of Parliament, a monument has been set up to the victims of the political repressions of the 1930-40s. The statue is by Zurab Tuzhba. The opening ceremony was attended by President Aleksandr Ankvab, Vice-President Mikhail Logua, Speaker of Parliament Nugzar Ashuba, Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaja, children and relatives of the repressed, members of the public and school-children.


"Today for us is one of happiness and sadness," said Irma Akirtava, daughter of one of the repressed, as she opened the meeting. "Joyful, because finally we have been given a place where we can come to light a candle and lay flowers. Sad, because today we remember our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, friends, close relatives, those who fell during the cursed years of the 30s – 40s of the last century. We are


talking about about 7,000 persons. For tiny Abkhazia this was a huge, dreadful figure. Even more awful is that we, the descendants of people torn to pieces in Stalin's torture-chambers, have been unable to come to their graves, to bow our heads, to weep over them, and to pay them due respect, because we do not know where their tortured, bullet-holed corpses lie."


In the words of Irma Akirtava, it is only 50 years after rehabilitation that is has finally become possible to set up in a free Abkhazia this modest monument, one for all.


"We can all come here, to light candles, to remember, to stand, to weep. The most important thing that we can bring here our children and grandchildren and tell them about the wonderful people who passed away in the prime of life," said Akirtava. She expressed the hope that "our descendants will also come to this place to remember their ancestors." Irma Akirtava, on behalf of the Association of Victims of the Political Repressions, expressed gratitude to the leadership of the Republic for their help and support in the erection of this monument. However, she regretted that she could not express her gratitude to Sergey Bagapsh, who did much to make this monument a reality. "His departure from us was untimely, and we bow our heads to his memory," she said.

In the words of the Chairman of the Association of Victims of the Political Repressions, Anatoliy Pilia, this place must be visited by the young; people coming to Sukhum for vacation or on tour must be brought to this spot. "People should know what Abkhazia suffered in those terrible years," he said at the rally.

"It is good that in our capital city there has appeared a monument to victims of the political repressions, to which not only those who directly affected by this terrible time and their descendants but the other citizens of our country as well as visitors can come and says their prayers," said Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaya, speaking to the crowd.

In his words, the repressions intensified after the killing of Nestor Lakoba in 1936. "Abkhazia’s political élite and intelligentsia were shot. What took place was, in effect, the extermination of everything Abkhazian – including closure of schools and banning the Abkhaz language. It was a widely thought-out policy, which lasted for many years. In 1949, the Greeks were expelled, whilst, in 1953, there was a plan to deport all the Abkhazians," he recalled.

It was then, according to Lakerbaya, when the capital of Abkhazia, Sukhum, began to be called Sukhumi. "Today, finally, we are opening a monument in a city that again carries its historical name. It is with those terrible years that Stalin's policy of transportation of populations is connected, and this is what seriously altered the demographic situation in Abkhazia and contributed to the establishment in the Republic of a "fifth column", which played a negative role in 1992, when the Georgian-Abkhazian war began," he said.

According to the head of government, "The opening of this monument is extremely important, but not less important is the fact that memory of the victims of the repressions is alive. Being consigned to oblivion is the worst thing that can be, and we must not let this happen" he stressed.

The rally was also addressed by Giorgi Dgebuadze, whose father was repressed, and he himself was arrested at the age of 11 as the son of a Trotskyite.

Member of the Commission for the Rehabilitation of Victims of the Political Repressions, daughter of one of the repressed, Irina Vardania, noted that there is no family in Abkhazia which was not affected by this terrible tragedy. "They annihilated everyone — young, old, and even children. Cut off at its roots was the only just matured Abkhazian intelligentsia — fine-looking, intelligent, educated people. They loved life, their people, their land. They were between the ages of 30 and 35, denied the chance to live full lives, and they took with them all their untapped potential. How much more might they have achieved, if they had been allowed to live?!" she said.

She remembered the first Chairman of the Association of the Victims of the Political Repressions, Mancha Benia, along with President Sergey Bagapsh, neither of whom lived to see this day.

Also speaking at the meeting were the writer Nicholaj Khashig, Head of the Communist Party of Abkhazia, Lev Shamba, and graduate of the Abkhazian State University (ASU) Angela Pataraya.

The author of the monument, Zurab Tuzhba, in his turn, said: " I tried to do everything that it was possible to do; I put amy soul into it. What is left is for you to judge how it has all turned out. Thanks to everyone who helped me in this matter. I think that my work will stand for many years in this city. " After the rally, participants in the ceremony laid flowers and lit candles of remembrance.


11.01.2011  AbkhazWorld.com