Black Sea Peacebuilding Network
Report on tenth meeting of the representatives of NGOs and independent experts
On 8th October, at GFSIS office, the 10th meeting of experts within the Georgian component of Black Sea Peace Network project was held.
Project is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Exterior of Finland and in collaboration with Crisis Management Initiative.
At the meeting, Tengiz Pkhaladze, Head of International Center of Geopolitical Studies (presentation: Use of Russian Soft Power to Georgia) and Givi Amiranashvili, Caucasian School of Governance (presentation: In Theoretical Issues of Conflicts’ Analysis and Transformation) made presentations.
Tengiz Pkhaladze, the first speaker presented his report: Use of Russian Soft Power to Georgia. T. Pkhaladze provided brief overview of the theoretical principles of the soft power, further he considered the history of use of the soft power by Russia, as a tool o foreign politics. T. Pkhaladze mentioned that Georgian has experienced all instruments of Russian soft power, as stated in the document (OVERVIEW OF FOREIGN POLITICS OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION (ОБЗОР ВНЕШНЕЙ ПОЛИТИКИ РОССИЙСКОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ) http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/3647DA97748A106BC32572AB002AC4DD) prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (culture, education and science, protection of Russian nationals living abroad, consul activities and Russian mass media). “Protection of the Russian nationals” is the motivation, based on which Russia has moved its armed forces into Georgian territory and this was the occasion for unlawful issuance of passports to the population of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, artificial change of the population structure and occupation and annexion of the part of Georgian territory. The cultural-educational, scientific and similar “human activities” implemented by official Moscow in the occupied Georgian territories, is nothing, but targeted politics of reformulation of the history, concealing of the truth and Russianization of the part of Georgian population (Abkhazia and Ossetia). As evidence of these statements, the speaker provided to the audience the information about ideological doctrines in Russia (geopolitical, geoeconomic and geo-cultural), on the basis of which Russia attempts to demonstrate its new image.
In the conclusion T. Pkhaladze mentioned that “soft power” is one of the instruments of state politics implemented by official Moscow, which serves not to dissemination of the values but to the interests of Kremlin and Russian governing elite. Therefore, in discussing new image of Russia, Russian soft power and its components, we should bear in mind the key objectives of the authors of these ideologies (see the report for details).
In the end of presentation, T. Pkhaladze noted that they would soon publish a book dealing with these issues and providing wide discussion of various aspects of the report.
Discussion after T. Pkhaladze’s presentation had the form of questions and answers.
The opinion was expressed that Russian soft power is soft only conditionally and it has a power of a boot; that this “soft” has turned into “hard: and T. Pkhaladze agreed with this. Further so called phenomenon of the nationals (conferences arranged in Sochi and Tskhinvali) was discussed.
One of the participants was interested who has attended the conferences in Tskhinvali; whether there were Ossetians as well or there were only Russians, he also mentioned the issues of issuance of the passports to the nationals.
The question was stated about measures against soft power used in Baltic and other countries.
In response, T. Pkhaladze said that the most problematic one among Baltic countries is Latvia, where there were the military bases and where 45% of the population is Russian. In Latvia specific works are implemented, e. g. modernization of the education system, though, the most important factor is membership of European Union and NATO. In T. Pkhaladze’s opinion all kinds of experience should be studied and shared. Some comments dealt with Dugin ideological school and its impact on official politics of Russia. The participants were interested of what could be used as a counter-measure (against Russian soft power) and who works in this direction.
T. Pkhaladze stated that he is unaware of what mechanisms are available to Georgia and perhaps the soft power should be used as well, as based on actual values and easy to understand for those, who are subject to Russian impact. In this context, he emphasized necessity of translation of the information into the language known by Abkhazians and Ossetians – Russian. He also believes that active contacts by means of the social networks are of great significance as well.
Givi Amiranashvili, the second speaker made presentation: On Theoretical Issues of Conflicts Analysis and Transformation.
Presentation by G. Amiranashvili provided discussion of the theoretical aspects of the conflicts’ resolution. He stated that though most contemporary conflicts take place within the state, rather than between the states, but such conflicts are characterized with unprecedented cruelty and with gross violation of human rights and human law norms. Other characteristics of such conflicts include: crush of the state institutes, especially the judicial and police systems, leading to paralysing of the governance, law enforcement and general chaos and devastation in the country.
G. Amiranashvili emphasized that this is the reason of adding special significance to understaining of the key issues of peaceful resolution of conflicts, what, on its side, requires detailed analysis of the reasons causing the conflicts, to develop adequate measures for avoiding of the conflicts or transformation of the existing ones.
G. Amiranashvili specified 12 key indicators of internal conflicts and in general, weakening of the government, as determined by the experts of this sphere and classified conditionally as social, economic and political/military indicators. Among the social indicators he mentioned: demographic density; mass migration of the refugees or IDPs, what can lead to creation of the unforeseen circumstances in the region; succession of the offended and vindictive groups or paranoia of certain groups; perpetual and long-lasting migration of people. Economic indicators: unequal economic development of the bordering/neighboring groups and generally, dramatic economic fall; and political/military indicators: de-legitimization and/or criminalization of the state; increasing stagnation of the public structures; arbitrary application or suspension of the rule of law, mass violation of human rights; operation of the security services as “the state within the state”; promotion of the functional elite; intervention of the foreign countries or external political players into the interior affairs of the country.
G. Amiranashvili also presented 12 key indicators of situation recovery and conflicts’ transformation within the peacebuilding politics, which would help the government of one or another country to deal with the problems. These indicators also include social, economic and political/military indicators. Social indicators include: reduction of the demographic density in the conflict region; resettlement of the refugees and IDPs for the purpose of elimination of the humanitarian catastrophe; promotion of conciliation between the vindictive groups and reduction of the hostile groups; reduction of the immigration level. Economic indicators include: balanced economic development in the regions and reduction of inequality of incomes between the groups; economic growth and wealth redistribution; and military-political indicators are: establishment of the state institutes based on the principle of public representation; establishment and/or capacity building of the strong public structures; creation of the basis for rule of law and reduction of the facts of violation of human rights; development of the public controlled professional military and security services; promotion of such national leaders, who have authority in such groups; elimination or reduction of the possibility of intervention the foreign country or external political players.
G. Amiranashvili emphasized significance of selection of the adequate peace strategies and methods for the peacebuilding process participant subjects to implement successful post-conflict measures. Leaders of high, medium and lower level okay important role. The speaker described all three levels of leadership, provided actual examples and specified the functions of these people in the peacebuilding process.
G. Amiranashvili also described the necessary issues, which should be taken into consideration for achievement of peace agreement. These issues include: readiness for peace achievement; identification and study of the needs/expectations of the parties; enforcement control; involvement/active participation in the negotiations. In addition G. Amiranashvili discussed the key elements determining, to great extent, success of the peace agreement. These elements include: focus on the issue rather than on personality; due preparation and exchange of information for amplification of common understanding; focusing on the interests of the parties rather than on their positions, offering of the multiple choices/proposals to meet the multilateral interests and those of the parties, evaluation of the proposals based on the examples and not through threats, awareness in the own best choices.
Finally, G. Amiranashvili presented as a conclusion, the factors determining success of the peace agreement. For this, the agreement should be: stable and long-term one; reflecting the interests of all parties; made without any enforcement and manipulations; oriented towards maintaining-improving relations between the parties; accomplishable (the voters should approve it and further it should be ratified); fair, understandable and full; effective (based on the best proposals of the parties; containing all issues arisen in the process of negotiations); oriented towards facilitation of the other agreements (for details see the report).
After presentation meeting participants expressed their opinions and put the questions.
They stated that such presentation is of great significance as it provides systematized presentation of the experience and its understanding would provide better vision of the ways for dealing with the problems. In the opinion of one of the participants, it is of great significance where the specific situation is placed within the specific framework and the challenges are clearly seen from the system. He stated that the scheme, presented by G. Amiranashvili lacks participation of the specific groups, e.g. women.
G. Amiranashvili noted that role of women in dealing with the conflicts is undoubtedly very important and provided the examples of Africa to illustrate this.
Further, the audience discussed, whether it was reasonable to determine fairness in the process of working on the conflicts’ resolution aspects, stating that determination of fairness does not mean only clarification of who was guilty and who was not. Specific model should be formulated to facilitate assessment and re-assessment of the past.
There was stated the opinion that unless the negotiations in different formats and between different representatives commence urgently, the estrangement would further increase and especially between the young people, complicating achievement of any agreement.
Discussion dealt as well with so called involvement action plan, emphasizing that to yield results, such plan should be multilateral, rather than bilateral.