From Lord Avebury P0617081
Tel 020-7274 4617
August 17, 2006
I attach an English-language version of the Key to the Future, a document prepared by the Abkhaz authorities on the resolution of their constitutional status. The Georgians have also produced a road map, and while neither of these documents provide a basis for compromise, being more a reiteration of their previously held positions, there should be a concerted attempt by the international community to get them together to see if discussion of the documents can lead to some reduction of tension and progress on the methodology of finding a permanent solution,
The Russian Foreign Minister has said that the introduction of Georgian armed forces into the upper part of the Kodori gorge was a gross violation of the 1994 Moscow Accords, and that the presence of the so-called government in exile there was a change for the worse. The UNOMIG military condemned the incursion immediately, though not their political colleagues, who may have been mindful of the need to preserve their relationship with
There may be some leverage over the Georgians because they are expecting to progress their membership action plan at the NATO Summit to be held in
The Rt Hon Geoff Hoon,
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
The Key to the Future
The aim of this plan is a final political, comprehensive settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict and the development of cardinally new, good-neighbourly relations between once-hostile states. The processes of economic integration in the
The basis of the plan consists of measures for restoring trust, which is why the demonstration of good will by both sides will be the key to a future stable peace. The strengthening of trust will be achieved only by ending military rhetoric and by augmenting peace initiatives, which must move from theory to implementation.
Taking into account the specific nature of Georgian-Abkhaz relations, which largely stems from the Stalin era, there is a need to first and foremost renounce the ambitions and stereotypes of that period. The political acts that were carried out by
During the rule of the Georgian Mensheviks (1918-1921), a military dictatorship was established in Abkhazia, which is confirmed by many sources stored in various archives worldwide. In 1925, Shalva Eliava, a Georgian political leader, admitted: “Throughout the entire period of rule of Menshevik government in Georgia there were systematic violations of the rights of the Abkhaz people and attempts by the ‘democratic’ Georgian government to turn Abkhazia into an object of exploitation, rule it directly, dispose of the republic’s entire assets - land, forests, and valuable real estate – for the purposes of the policy of settling there themselves.”
The Georgian leadership’s purposeful, consistent policy of assimilating ethnic Abkhaz was to result in them losing their ethnic identity altogether.
After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party also denounced the policy which the Georgian leadership implemented towards the ethnic Abkhaz at its August 1956 plenary session.
The preliminary investigative materials form the
Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze said at the 11th plenary session of the Georgian Communist Party Central Committee on 27 June 1978: “it has to be said straight out that, in the past, during the period which we all know, a policy was being implemented towards the Abkhaz people that may effectively be described as chauvinist. Let us call things by their names. That policy, in its very essence, came into conflict with the interests of both the Georgian and Abkhaz people.”
It follows from that statement that, clearly, the capability for internal self-revision and admission of one’s own mistakes has always existed in
It has to be noted that the key factor in Abkhazia’s right to independence is not only the universal right of nations to self-determination, but also a number of concomitant events and internal state documents and agreements that in their entirety form the legal basis for Abkhazia’s independence from
Despite this, the armed conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia was preceded by a number of events which, if they had been addressed properly, would have made it possible to avoid the armed conflict. In particular, the Declaration of the
On 3 April 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union passed the law “On the Regulation of the Question of and Rules for the Secession of the
State legal relations between Abkhazia and Georgia that were created and regulated under Soviet law were also severed according to Soviet law.
Unfortunately, in the transitional period a basis for dealing with conflict situations democratically had not yet taken shape in
We will once again draw the attention of the international community to the need to recognize the results of the 1999 referendum in which 90 percent of the Abkhaz population affirmed their desire to build a democratic state. Despite the fact that the vast majority of ethnic Georgian refugees did not take part in it, the refusal to take into account the opinion of the majority that freely expressed their opinion that they should live in an independent state is a direct violation of the nation’s right to self-determination.
It follows from the aforementioned facts that Abkhazia is ready to hold civilized negotiations on all issues except that of the status of the
BASIS FOR A NEW PHASE OF SETTLEMENT Reassessment
The level of trust between the sides will increase substantially if Abkhaz society can see that, along with democratic reforms, a reassessment of past mistakes has begun in
Renouncing political and economic pressure on Abkhazia, in particular, lifting the economic and information blockade on Abkhazia, should be the first step in the new phase of settling the conflict.
The measures that have been implemented as part of the recent process of rebuilding trust have indeed yielded positive results, but the ratio between the work that was done and its effectiveness, as well as its accompanying prostration [as published; frustration], which is caused by the absence of considerable progress, has clearly demonstrated that rebuilding trust cannot be based solely on declarations.
As time has passed, the unproductive and inhumane nature of the blockade has become obvious. The results of the blockade have first and foremost affected the peaceful population of Abkhazia, for which all those countries that took part in reaching the decision on imposing a blockade on Abkhazia should share responsibility.
The isolation restricts the Abkhaz public’s participation in global processes of economic integration, which has an effect not only on the economic and social prosperity of the Abkhaz people, but also on all of its neighbours. The blockade deprives the Abkhaz people of a substantial part of their income, which might otherwise be spent on implementing more important and more comprehensive social and humanitarian programmes. The Abkhaz people’s right to development free economic activities is being indirectly violated. Taking advantage of the information blockade against
SECOND PHASE – SECURITY “Practical steps to strengthen trust-building measures”
At the current stage in Georgian-Abkhaz relations, when the Abkhaz side has justified concerns about
Notice has to be taken of the counterproductive nature of
The international community should ensure that the situation in
The Abkhaz and Georgian sides should make unambiguous statements on their mutual aspiration to cooperate in combating crime in the coastal zone.
The United Nations should help provide technical equipment and promote cooperation between Abkhaz and Georgian law-enforcement agencies to combat organized crime.
There is a need for us to take the process of the peaceful settlement of the conflict to an absolutely new and productive phase. The reference point marking the start of that phase should be the first direct meeting between the Abkhaz and Georgian leaders at which the sides will openly state their commitment to a solely peaceful settlement of the conflict and sign, on condition that international guarantees are provided, an agreement in which they will reject the threat of using force or any other methods of political and economic pressure.
It is especially important to underscore that the desire of both sides to ensure peace at sea, on land, and in the air should also be stated in the peace agreement to be signed by both leaders.
All the countries that are involved in the region’s economic activities, namely, Abkhazia, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Turkey, South Ossetia, Nagornyy-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, and the EU – which is a facilitator of economic processes in the Black Sea and Caucasus regions – should become parties to a broad agreement on future economic cooperation.
The development of European models of economic cooperation will facilitate the strengthening and growth of mutually advantageous, partner-like and mutually interdependent ties, which will eventually form a solid base for lasting and stable peace. The international community, in particular, the UN Security Council, should become an independent arbiter and help implement the international security guarantees between Georgia and Abkhazia and carry out measures to prevent the resumption of the conflict. The conditions and responsibility for keeping the peace between the sides should be clearly formulated in UN documents and act as a mechanism that will prevent the sides from [entering into] armed confrontation.
The next important step on the road to rapprochement should be holding preliminary consultations between the presidents of the two countries on conditions for the future peaceful coexistence of the two states. In this case,
It is obvious that, once this step is taken, the sides’ positions on regional cooperation will converge tangibly, which will have a direct effect on the level of security in the region, stability and economic prosperity, and will also bring stability to our neighbours.
Return of refugees
Abkhazia has expressed its readiness to follow the long-term plan [UNHCR Country Operations Plan] which was suggested by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Office [UNHCR]. In connection with this, the process of verification [of the identity] of Georgian refugees, which is under way within the framework of UNHCR activities, should get greater support from all the participants in the peace process as soon as an independent assessment of the situation makes it possible to form a real picture of the humanitarian action to be carried out.
The Abkhaz side is ready to fully promote and strengthen the process of the return of refugees to Abkhazia’s Gali District because it was the initiator of this in March 1999.
The process of the return of the refugees requires a more attentive and measured approach. The international participants in the regulation process too should share the negative aspects of this action [sentence as published].
Abkhazia reasserts its readiness to carry out trust-building measures set out in the 2003
For the transport and energy infrastructure development projects to function effectively there is a need to end the politicization of many purely economic issues. In connection with the project to restore the railway,
Given the great importance of the issue of strategic partnership in the energy sector and in the struggle against external threats, the stability of the entire
There can be no doubt that ignoring Abkhazia’s role as an integral element in cooperation between the EU,
Recognition of Abkhazia would resolve specific problems of security and stability in the entire region and would form a foundation for social, economic, and cultural cooperation between the states.
For more that 13 year now, Abkhazia has been independently developing a democratic political system, a market economy, a legal framework, an independent court system, a civil society and human rights according to international standards. Modern-day Abkhazia is a state with strong development indicators.
Abkhazia is capable of shouldering responsibility and playing the role of a full-fledged connecting link between all countries. The absence of political recognition for Abkhazia hinders stability and the development of a beneficial climate between North and
Abkhazia is a factor in the stabilization of the region, a link in the process of restoring communications in the Caucasus, which is not only in Abkhazia’s interests, but also in the interests of
Unfortunately, in discussing its own role in Black Sea regional economic cooperation,
Negotiating process and participants
The UN Security Council could also facilitate talks at a more or less unbiased level. Taking into account the fact that Abkhazia is a party to the conflict and a direct participant in the negotiating process, the Abkhaz side once again asks the United Nations, the Russian Federation as the facilitating side, and the UN Secretary General’s Group of Friends on Georgia to discuss the issue of the presence of an Abkhaz representative at the scheduled sessions of the UN Security Council so that members of the Security Council will have the opportunity to listen to one of the parties to the conflict and receive more objective information on current developments.
Appeal to International Organizations and Diplomatic Representatives in
Missionto ; Georgia
- United Nations Representatives;
- International Committee of the Red Cross Representatives;
- Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the Council of
- Diplomatic Embassies in
The Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre expresses its concern about recent events occurring in the Kodori Gorge. According to our information, the ‘successful operation’ in Kodori has resulted in a total violation of the basic fundamental rights of the Gorge’s population. The Gorge is isolated from the view of observers from local and international organizations.
Our sources inform us that the peaceful population of this area is being searched illegally. During the course of recent events, no search warrants have been produced.
Innocent people are being detained and beaten in the Gorge; primarily the family members and relatives of people wanted by the authorities.
Members ‘Monadire Unit’ are not being given any kind of documentation to prove that they have handed in their arms.
Transportation along the only road (the Sakeni-Chuberi highway) linking the area to the rest of
The information received shows that there were three or four occasions where peaceful civilians were beaten by military personnel operating in the Gorge.
The planting of guns on people has also been witnessed.
According to various sources, 14 to17 people have been detained. Only 1 or 2 of these people were actually wanted earlier, the rest are family members or relatives of the wanted men, who have guns planted on them.
It is notable, that only 1 or 2 people of those detained had been wanted for having committed the crimes in the past, such as murder, robbery or other serious offences. The available information shows that almost every person who is actually wanted for past offences escaped. The only ones detained are those who committed no crime in the past, had no previous problems with the police and who remained in their homes.
Our information shows that the authorities have detained relatives of the wanted men on the basis of a proviso: “Let your brother, (father, son, etc.) turn himself in and you will be released”.
There have also been occasions when the detention (and the planting of a gun on someone) takes place as a result of some private quarrel; a local policeman, offended by somebody, for some reason or other in the past, gives false information to high-ranking police officials, and special operations are subsequently held against that person.
During these detentions, those who are arrested are not told the reason for their detention nor are they explained their rights.
It is notable that between 1993 and 1995, during the hostilities against Basaev, Bagramian’s units, Kazaks and other militants, no Kodori villages were bombed by the air force. The houses of the Gorge’s inhabitants were also not bombed in 2001, when Ruslan Gelaev’s militants were threatening the Abkhazians.
One of the most worrying incidents was the switching off of the ‘Magticom’ cellular network masts in the Kodori Gorge for 3-4 days. The shutting down of the towers was done under Government orders that had no legal basis. As far as society was aware, emergency powers were not announced by the government, raising further concerns about the illegality of these events.
In response to the above incidents, international monitoring of the human rights situation in the Kodori Gorge must commence immediately and by all possible means. International organizations are requested to take part in the monitoring process together with Georgian NGOs and representatives of the diplomatic missions within
Groups responsible for defending human rights must have a continuous presence in the Gorge, to prevent further violations of the human rights of the local population. International and other human rights organizations must also be informed about the human rights situation in the Kodori Gorge.