A NOTIFICATION AND EVALUATION ON THE INCREASING SPECULATIONS ABOUT ANOTHER ATTACK ON ABKHAZIA BY GEORGIA
As The Caucasian Abkhazian Solidarity Committee; we call upon our Government, Turkish Public, our Community, the Media, and the international institutions, particularly the EU, UN, and OSCE to assume the responsibility for avoiding a tragedy.
While Abkhazia, an exceptional part of the Caucuses, was hoping to establish a permanent peace with Georgia after the war of 1992-1993; attempts to solve the problem by using force have been revived due to the American-supported government change in Tbilisi. The Committee having been founded by the Turkish citizens and civilian organizations with Caucasian origin during the Abkhaz-Georgian war, felt the necessity to express its concerns on the sensations that the Georgian authorities re-try invasion with the army established by the American support and supposedly-illegal paramilitary groups that they had tried before with the non-uniform groups of released prisoners and nationalist guerillas.
The Committee is a civilian initiative that had served as a bridge between Abkhazia and Caucasian Diaspora in Turkey of 7 million people, providing coordination and information flow among official channels; and has carried on its mission until recently since the end of the war. It has been informing the governmental authorities, related embassies and missions, non-governmental organizations and official institutions all over the world not about Abkhazia only, but also Chechnya, South Ossetia and other problems in the region.
Due to this special mission, the Committee wants to share the speculations taking place in domestic and international press and intelligence sources about that Georgia is going to launch another armed attack against Abkhazia in the next spring, at the latest.
We want to make clear that such a military action without any just or legal basis would generate tragic consequences and never help to build peace in the region.
Uncompromising Attitude of the Georgian Administration
It is obvious that Abkhazia and Georgia had never had the convenient environment to establish peace. As it is evident, the war that started on 14th August 1992 ended on 30th September 1993 with the defeat of Georgia and on 14th May 1994 International Peace Keeping Forces were deployed on the common frontiers of the parties.
The meetings between the parties on 4th April 1994 in Moscow, in 1998 in Athens, in 1999 in Istanbul, and in 2001 in Crimea did not lead to the desired peace; because the Georgian government could not come up with an acceptable solution proposal on Abkhazia’s future status. Moreover; Tbilisi, with the support of Moscow, succeeded to convince Commonwealth of Independent States to apply an economic embargo against Abkhazia so that Abkhazian people got isolated from the rest of the world. As a result of this; all the visits and aids to Abkhazia were prevented and Abkhazian people were deprived from the freedom to travel, communication, and education. This inhuman situation holds for the moment at its highest levels.
Because of the uncompromising approach of Georgia, the Abkhazian Republichas announced its “de facto” independence and declared sovereignty by establishing its state organs after the war.
Several proposals made by Abkhazia to establish a federal or confederal state were constantly turned down by Georgia. Georgian government considered that Abkhazia becomes an autonomous body with minority rights was the only way to settle the conflict. The content of this proposal was more limited with Saakashvili’s Presidency. According to Tbilisi, Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts were going to be solved through peaceful meetings in a democratic environment; yet the status envisaged for both nations could not be explained. The military and administrative measuresapplied to the Acara Autonomous Government during Saakashvili’s Presidency lay bare what they understand from democracy and peaceful solution.
For a healthy evaluation of the Abkhazian-Georgian conflict, the past political relations between the two should be put forth clearly. The Abkhazian nation is an autochthon community on the lands they are living today. This fact is verified through the archeological and anthropological studies in Abkhazia. The oldest sources indicate that Abkhazians founded administrations compatible with the legal and political circumstances of the day. In addition to this, it is evident that from time to time they developed joint governments with Georgians. The maps dating back to the 4th and 10th centuries display the region including the Georgian geography as “the Abkhazian County”. Even the Dede Korkut epics call Abkhazia as “the Abkhazian Khanate”. The attempts to change or deny these facts are obviously irrelevant. When the Georgian administration joined the Tsardom in 1801, the Abkhazian authorities stayed out of this structure.
In the course of time, balances in Caucuses shifted in favor of Russia as opposed to both the Ottomans and the Western states; and it became impossible to protect its Black Sea shores and fortresses for the Ottomans.
Although the Democratic Georgian Republic founded by the local feudal principalities with the support of Mensheviks and protection of Germans in 1918 singed an agreement with some Abkhazian feudal landlords on annexation of Abkhazia to Georgia, this incident has been totally distorted and used against the Abkhazians.
1. While the Georgian Republic had the opportunity to reach Anapa, it never claimed possession on these lands. Abkhazia was invaded within this operation, as well.
2. With its own revolutionary units, the Abkhazian people fought for independence against The Georgian republic and expelled both the Abkhazian landlords having signed the agreement and the Georgian troops from their lands.
3. On 11th May 1918, Abkhazia joined the Mountaineer People Republic as “Independent Abkhazia” and did not encounter any objection from Georgia.
In the following months, after the formation of the USSR Abkhazia publicly declared its request to join the Union as a republic with equal rights and status as the Georgian Republic on 26th March 1921. This declaration was approved by the Caucasian Bureau on March 28th. The same request was sent to Lenin on March 31st , yet was not responded due to his sickness at that time. However, it is evident that an affirmative decision of Lenin was prevented by the Nations Commissioner Stalin who is of Georgian origin. He had been imposing to the revolutionary Abkhazian authorities to compose a federation with Georgian Republic based on equal rights. This is exactly why the requests of the Abkhazian administration for financial aid was not taken into account. On 21st May 1921, Georgian administration accepted the Abkhazian declaration and announced with a statement to public. In addition to this, there were statements on the accession of Georgia and Abkhazia to the South Caucasian Confederation as states with equal rights.
However; the fact that Stalin was in power with the assistance of KGB President Beria in charge of Abkhazia during these developments, hindered the Abkhazian people from getting a victory in their the independence struggle and a legal recognition of Abkhazia. Here it should be noted that the 1921 Constitution of Georgia did not include Abkhazia and Abkhazian people. Consequently, Abkhazia declared sovereignty by making its own constitution, yet it was not recognized by neither the USSR or Georgia and it was decided that the two sides should prepare a common constitution in 1927. The 2nd and 3rd articles of this new constitution ratified by the Georgian Parliament envisaged a loose federative structure for two parties and defined the common sovereignty areas.
However in 1931, due to the pressures from Stalin and Beria, these legal developments were ruled out and Abkhazia was coerced to an autonomous structure dependent on Georgia. The Abkhazians having ignore this proposal resumed the administration according to the 1925 constitution which continued with ups and downs until 1990’s. During this period, an autonomous republic status under Georgia was desired for Abkhazia, yet the independence struggle of the Autonomous Abkhazian Administration against Georgian government did not come to an end.
For a comprehensive evaluation of this process, the following points should be noted:
1. While the Georgian government joint the USSR as an independent republic, it did not incorporate Abkhazia in terms of geography, people, and administration.
2. The developments and documents on the status and independence of Abkhazia were acknowledged by the Georgian authorities.
3. The status changes against Abkhazian were dictated to it with pressures from Stalin and Beria.
4. Abkhazia did not accept submission
When the USSR went through the dissolution process, Georgia has been the first to declare independence. In fact, according to the common opinion of Western states, the biggest role in the disintegration of the Union was carried out by the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Shevardnadze who is of Georgian origin. Consequently, Georgia has been immediately recognized as a unitarystate by the Western institutions such as the UN without any legal or political analysis. Actually it was natural that the West that had been following policies against the USSR treated Georgia with sympathy. As soon as Georgia declared independency, it announced to break all the links with the Union and resume the 1921 Constitution. The Western states, including Turkey, competed to accept this. However, there were problems unsolved, especially the situation of the Autonomous Abkhazian Republic. Georgia had left the Union without any proposal on its status. The new structure did not include any information on Autonomous Abkhazia, neither in legal terms nor de facto. However, this Constitution did not have any article on Abkhazia being annexed to Georgia. Moreover, while Georgia were joining the Union, it left Abkhazia out. Therefore, the unitary Georgian state having been recognized by the West and Turkey without any proper research or assessment, chose to be accepted by the world by leaving the matters related to Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Acaria in abeyance. In return, Abkhazia asserting that this situation was unacceptable and that their status must be defined, as well, declared sovereignty under 1925 Constitution and made a call for meeting with Georgia.
Georgia not only refused these declarations and invitations, but also launched an operation on 14th August 1992 for invasion of Abkhazia by releasing and arming all the prisoners.
On the discussions about the status, the following points should be noted:
1. Georgia omitted that the 1921 Constitution that it had used as a basis for independence and unity in fact envisaged a loose federation (almost a confederation) and a status ad arrangements that make up a valid structure in terms of international law.
2. Both by this constitution and by integration with the USSR, Georgian authorities accepted that Abkhazia does not belong to Georgia regarding land, population, and administrative matters.
3. Recognition of a state having been founded with a federal constitution as a unitary state is impossible in legal terms. However, the West made this mistake without any relevant analysis, due to their sympathy towards Shevardnadze and disintegration of the USSR.
4. Relying on this, Georgia did not include Abkhazians in any administrative initiative and took the decisions about their status by its own.
As a matter of fact, it was this unilateral behavior of Georgia that paved the way for a war in the region.
Obviously, the war ended with the victory of Abkhazians. There were some factors that were not taken into account by Shevardnadze and his administration who were so optimistic that they were making plans of drinking coffee in Sokhumi.: North Caucasians who are brothers of the Abkhazians and all the Caucasian people in diasporas have been on Abkhazians’ side with all their spiritual and material supports. There should be no doubt that they will do the same in case of a new war as they did 14 years ago.
The Political Positions of Parties
Objectively, the case can be summarized as following: Abkhazia that established its own administration and sovereignty with the end of the war has been carrying on its de facto independence. Especially with the agreement of 4th April 1994 by 4 parties (Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia, and OSCE) the international legitimacy of the State of Abkhazia became definite. Even if it is not recognized de jure in meetings and agreements, it is recognized de facto.
As mentioned above, Abkhazia made proposals including federal or confederal solutions, yet they were turned down by Georgia. It is impossible for Abkhazia to accept any status offered by the domestic law of Georgia. Abkhazia used this opportunity and has persistently defended its independence thesis. Therefore, a contemporary democracy and administration have been developed in Abkhazia; parliamentary elections have been held under international observation; and the elected President has come into power. The legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of state have been developed in compliance with modern law. The Abkhazian people have taken these results as psychologically, politically, and legally indispensable.
Despite this reality, Abkhazia cannot become visible in the international arena due to its lack of de jure representation rights, while Georgia’s independence and unity have been internationally recognized. This situation creating difficulties for Abkhazia in getting international, political, and legal support is constantly being abused by Georgia.
The following points remained unsolved, as well:
1. The local and foreign military units trained by Georgia are located in Pankisi and Kodor Valleys constantly threat Abkhazia, and are not withdrawn despite the attempts from Abkhazia.
2. Georgia is not willing to abolish or reduce the embargo against Abkhazia. Moreover, the commercial ships carrying aids to Abkhazian people are detained and unloaded by Georgia in Poti port, although they do not carry military equipment.
3. The fact that these ships are taken to Poti port with the escort of boats that had been granted by Turkey to Georgia, cause serious concerns for both Abkhazians and 7 million Turkish citizens with Caucasian origin; since these boats being used against their Abkhazian brothers had been purchased partly with the taxes of these 7 million people.
4. The Abkhazian citizens with Georgian origin settled in Gal region according to agreements by two parties are constantly instigated against Abkhazia.
5. In this region, terrorist acts against Abkhazian people and government are conducted by the gangs.
6. Despite the agreement of 4th April 1994, the parties cannot reach a consensus on the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia due to the uncompromising approach of Georgia.
As mentioned above, Georgia has been abusing its advantageous position against Abkhazia. In addition to this, it makes the solution of such matters harder that Abkhazian people get passport from Russian Federation, Abkhazia sells electricity to Russia, Russia extends the railway to Abkhazia.
Moreover, the Georgian authorities’ attempts to put pressure on Abkhazia by generating some disagreements with Russia and raising tension is far from facilitating the settlement of the conflict. Georgia also makes the solution of problems harder by taking and reflecting the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts as a domestic matter. As a matter of fact, all the Caucasian people and the ones in diaspora have been interested in the problems of their brothers in the region. On the contrary to Georgian claims, the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts exceeded the Georgian borders and became a common problem of all the Northern Caucasians in both homeland and in diaspora. Therefore, they have to be solved through fair and peaceful ways based on realities, principals of international law, and human rights.
Evaluation and Conclusion
1. For the time-being, the actual war between parties has come to an end, while the legal and diplomatic struggle continues at its highest levels.
2. The meetings until now have not brought forth any results meeting the requests and needs of Abkhazian people.
3. The Georgian government maintains its harsh and irresponsible approach relying on the opportunities given by the international community.
4. The embargos against Abkhazia have become harsher, and the Georgian authorities do not have any attempts to facilitate this.
5. Abkhazian people and government are determined to sustain its de facto position despite all the difficulties they face.
6. The Georgian authorities avoid reflecting the realities on the problematic matters such as refugees to the international community. They constantly omit the Abkhazian citizens of Georgian origin (60.000 persons) that have returned to Gal region. With that method, they try to keep the refugee problem alive and thus receive aid. However, the Georgians in Gal region do not receive any share from these grants, and the donors ignore this situation.
When we evaluate the events as per today:
1. After the election of Saakasvili as the President which is called as a “velvet
2. As mentioned above, it is a fact that the Western states and the USA that have been on the Georgian side due to some political, religious, and strategic reasons support Saakashvili administration against Russia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia. This support is provided as military aid and training and financial aid through some non-governmental organizations in Georgia. This help encourages Georgia to become harsherand to rely on military methods to solve the conflicts.
3. As a matter of fact, nowadays, news in American and Russian press are alerting that Georgia will start the war in the next spring.
4. The first signals of this were given in Acara region by Saakashvili. This operation can be seen as the beginning of the will to solve the problems through military force.
5. It is not difficult to imagine that the USA gets into contact with Russia on the Great Middle East Project and its geo-strategic objectives about roads to energy resources in Caspian Basin and that Abkhazia and Georgia questions come up during these meetings. As a result, it does not seem impossible that Georgia would venture such as war, given the support it gets from the West and Turkey.
6. We can add to these facts that Saakashvili came into power having been equipped with the education he had got in the in the USA based on American policies and political projects on Middle East and Caucuses, we can easily imagine he would tend to refer to military solutions of conflicts.
After evaluating all these realities, we need to underline the following points:
1. Georgia had never been an independent and unitary state except the short period that it acquired with the approvals of Ottomans and Tsardom Russia after the 1774 Kaynarca Agreement. During the nation-building movement when all the communities were in the course of founding their own nation-states, the Georgians assented absolute Russian sovereignty. This consent continued until the disintegration process of the USSR.
2. In the near past, Abkhazian people and government have not voluntarily been in any cooperation or administrative corporation with Georgia. As mentioned above, Abkhazia’s legal and political status was defined as a part Georgia by the pressures from Stalin and Beria. Similarly, a nation was divided into two parts as Southern and Northern Ossetia without any legitimate ground and the Southern part was annexed to Georgia.
3. The fact that the Western states preferred to support Georgia with practical reasons without having done any relevant research on the political history of the region , while the US took Georgia as a potential military base encourage the Georgian authorities to omit the realities.
4. The Georgian administration tend to treat arbitrary due to the Georgian belief to be superior to the neighboring nations
We call upon the Georgian people and administration, the US and EU, the State Turkish Republic that we have proudly been residing in to take the following requests into consideration:
Given these realities; supporting the Georgian government militarily, politically, or financially against Abkhazia and Ossetia due to some interests and aims is not right. If this support will continue anyway, it should serve to establish peace in the region. Otherwise, it will cause more grief, increase unsolved problems, and lead to the extension of war, rather than peace. Moreover, the donors will obviously not get hat they expect, and the stability in Caucuses will be seriously affected.
Once again we want to emphasize that the war will have a long run, thousands of innocent people will die, children will lose their parents, one way or another the rest of the Caucasian nations will take part in this war which will obviously lead to negative outcomes for the whole region.
Our Abkhazian brothers do not have any other homeland to go. Therefore, there is not difference between dying and losing this struggle for them. They will carry on this war, regardless of the conditions.
As the Caucasian-Abkhazian Solidarity Committee; on behalf of the Abkhazian and Ossetian people and administrations, 7 million Turkish citizens with Caucasian origin and our brothers in diasporas, we ask the entities helping Georgia to stop their support and try to facilitate the settlement of the conflict with peaceful means based on law and human rights.Date : 09.02.2006
Issue : 2006 / 008
On Behalf of the Caucasian Abkhazian Solidarity Committee
President İrfan Argun