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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
The aim of Parliamentary Groups is to
foster and maintain friendship with, and understanding of, particular
countries through links with national legislatures.
Abkhazia will not
allow on its territory any international monitoring
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
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.
No more minefields
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
The Voice of Russia
In Sukhum a
monument has been set up to the victims of the political repressions of
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
"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
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
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
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.