Black Sea Peacebuilding Network
Report on eleventh meeting of the representatives of NGOs and independent experts
On 12th November 2010, at GFSIS office, the eleventh 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.
George Gvimradze, Officer of the Center of Strategic Studies (North Caucasus as a Factor in Georgian-Russian Relations) and Nika Chitadze, the President of International and Security Research Center (Black Sea Region: Players and Interaction of Forces) presented their reports to the audience.
First speaker at the meeting, George Gvimradze, made presentation: North Caucasus as a Factor in Georgian-Russian relations. He stated that more detailed discussion of this issue will be provided in the planned publication. In the beginning G. Gvimradze discussed current situation in North Caucasus Region, its territorial dividing, criteria of such dividing, as well as the existing problems. He emphasized the most important problem of the North Caucasus – opposition to the Russian center and the negative outcomes of this opposition.
The speaker discussed various aspects of relations between the center and regions: in the opinion of some experts, the center was able to achieve, through appointing of the effective governors, seeming peace and in lieu of non-intervention into the internal affairs – loyalty of the regional governments.. Though, the issue of stability in the region is not eliminated yet. One more significant issue is personalization of the regional politics; tourism problem is significant as well. G. Gvimradze emphasized how this region is seen in Russia.
G. Gvimradze, in his presentation, also provided brief trends in the region: negative trends – increase of violence, reduction of Slav ethnic groups in the region, Islam politicization, increasing social strain and the positive trends – drastic change of the rhetorics of the central and local governments.
In his presentation, G, Gvimradze discussed the role of North Caucasus in Georgian-Russian relations. He considered the issues of relations between Georgia and North Caucasus in historical respect (Russian Empire, soviet and post-soviet periods), impact and role of Russia for these relations, as well as the polities of Georgian government with respect of North Caucasus. G. Gvimradze discussed North Caucasus as area of collaboration between Georgia and Russia; he stated that the key destabilization factor – radical Islam may lead to future collaboration between Georgia and Russia (regarding the state interests of both countries).
In conclusion, G. Gvimradze mentioned that at each stage of their relations, both, Georgia and Russia used North Caucasus for their own political strategies. This region, with few exceptions, has never been the area of positive collaboration in Georgian-Russian relations. And currently, Georgia and Russia, irrespective of their confrontation, have significant common interest and strong objective motivation of collaboration for peaceful resolution of North Caucasian problem. For this, Georgia has the unique cultural resource – experience of cultural collaboration with the North Caucasian nations and participation in the processes of their development in the soviet period.
After presentation the representatives of the audience expressed their opinions and offered questions to G. Gvimradze.
The listeners expressed their great interest and approval. The discussion was arranged in relation with the presented problem and generally, around the issues of Caucasian-Russian relations. They discussed the issue of opening of the Georgian borders for North Caucasians and expected problems in this respect. They also considered, how the Board of Experts can act for development of the policies at the governmental level and what mechanisms should be dealt with for recommendations etc.
Issue of presentation of the second speaker at the meeting, Nika Chitadze, was Black Sea Region: Players and Interaction of Forces. In the beginning he provided general overview of the role of Black Sea Region in the contemporary international relations and impact of Russian-Georgian war on the region. N. Chitadze discussed the strategical interests of geopolitical players (EU, USA< Russia, Turkey) in the Black Sea Region and the foreign-political and national security priorities of the relatively small-size countries (Romania-Bulgaria, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine).
N. Chitadze considered the role and place of Georgia in the Black Sea Region and presented the priorities of foreign politics of Georgia, for realization of which, strengthening of collaboration within Black Sea Region is of great significance.
Discussion, after N. Chitadze’s presentation, was basically in a form of questions and answers. The experts considered national problems in Moldova, the issues of their self-identification and influences there; as well as Russian-Turkish relations at current stage.
In the end of the meeting K. Gogolashvili informed the audience about first session of the dialogue between Georgian and Russian experts planned in Istanbul, on 17-19 December.