On September 25, 2009 the meeting of experts was held at GFSIS. It was the first meeting held in the format of Georgian component of “The Black Sea Peacebuilding Network” project. The project is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and in cooperation with the Crisis Management Initiative.
Prior to the meeting the independent experts as well as the representatives of NGOs working in Georgia on conflict resolution, regional cooperation and regional context issues were provided with the information about the project and in case of their interest the questionnaires designed under the project framework had been completed.
In the introductory speech the main goals and the tools for producing the final product were explained briefly by the project leadership. The project is focused on establishing the self-governing civil society councils in the Black Sea region which will elaborate the recommendation on peaceful resolution of the conflicts and regional cooperation. The project structure is directed on ensuring the involvement of society in this process.
Under the project activities the meetings (discussions) will be organized by the established Expert Councils on the issues of resolution of existing conflicts in Georgia (and the Black Sea region). It is also envisaged under the project framework to hold regional meetings with the similar councils of the Black Sea region.
The project Georgian component director (Mr. Kakha Gogolashvili) mentioned that there are fact and features, which prove the development process of The Black Sea as a region. The conflicts existing in this region (Abkhazia, Former Autonomous Republic of South Ossetia, Karabakh, Transnistria), notwithstanding their individual specifications, contain common characteristics that will enable Georgian experts involved in the project to share their experience with the representatives of other countries (Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan), also get some additional information from them as well.
In the introductory speech the role and service of the Crisis Management Initiative in the mentioned project as well as in other projects carried out in the field of conflict resolution were discussed.
The main directions of the project activity, such as the meetings of Expert Council, issuing newsletter, project website, etc. were also mentioned in the introductory speech. It has been decided that the topics to be discussed at the meetings and to be published in the newsletter should be suggested by the Experts’ Council and so called Advisory Council of the project should approve them.
The majority of Expert Council members expressed willingness to prepare presentations for future meetings based on which further discussion will be held. The experts will also work on the topics to be published in the newsletter.
GFSIS, the organization managing the Georgian component of the project will prepare the projects of the website and the first newsletter before next meeting.
Introduction to the project goals, components and future product
The representative of the Crisis Management Initiative (Mr. Mikheil Mirziashvili) mentioned that the final product of “The Black Sea Peacebuilding Network” which should be worked out by the participating experts, will be the recommendations for conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, which will be shared with the society and any interested actor (government, international organizations working in the country, media), also will be published on the website and will be distributed as an informational-analytical newsletter. The above mentioned newsletter will reflect the opinion or vision of various experts concerning the problems of conflict resolution and peace building.
For effective implementation of the project goals and for carrying out the activity of the Expert Council, it is necessary to form the group of experts which will intensely participate in the above mentioned processes. Such body is the “Advisory Council” and it will be elected by the members of Expert Council among themselves. The above mentioned Council will decide on planning of the expert meetings, will design and approve the schedule; It also has the editorial function while working on the newsletter. The experts will be able to design themselves the topic of the meeting with special emphasis on the topics which are most actual.
The Expert Council represents an important component of civil forum. On one hand, it will work with the civil society and broad masses, and on the other hand it will help the consolidation of expert opinions.
The goal of the mentioned project is the creation of self-governing civil structure. The Expert Council is the civil society resource in identifying the problem and introducing the culture of public opinion mobilization for its solution.
The introduction of project goals, components and the future product to be created was followed by the discussion. The questions of different kind concerning the target audience, interested parties and countries available for participation in the project were asked. The needs and expediency of the discussion on regional level regarding different conflicts was also discussed. The necessity of inclusion of other countries (Russia, Ukraine, Turkey) in the project was underlined.
Election of Advisory Council members
After discussing the goals, components and final product of the project, at the next stage the meeting was followed by elections. At the meeting 6 (six) participants were unanimously nominated by the group of experts:
Mr. Alxander Rusetski, South Caucasus Institute of Regional Security
- Mrs. Iulia Kharashvili, Association of Internally Displaced Women “Tankhmoba”
- Mr. Giorgi Volski, International Centre for Geopolitical Studies
- Mrs. Natela Sakhokia, Strategic Research Centre
- Mr. Alexander Kukhianidze, Transnational Crime and Corruption Research Centre
- Mrs. Naira Bepiev, Iv. Javakhishvili State University of Tbilisi
Discussion of components (schedule of the next meeting, topics to be discussed, project results)
At the meeting the schedule of the next meeting was discussed. Several important topics were mentioned by the experts:
The Role of Russia in the Black Sea region Conflicts
- Situation in South Caucasus
- Missed Opportunities in Terms of Conflict Resolution
Resources that were not used – The Role of Women During Conflict Resolution
- Militarization of Abkhazia
- Relationship between Turkey and Armenia and Javakheti Region
- The Role of Europe during Conflict Resolution
- Inclusion of Intellectual Part of the Conflict Parties in the Creation of Future Product
- Possibility of New Military Conflict
- The Role of Eastern Partnership in the Region
- The Problem of Disinformation and Information War after the August War
- The Government Policy in Relation with Gali and Akhalgori Regions
- The Policy in Regard with the Georgian Speaking Population Remaining on the Occupied Territory
- The Influence of the August war on Other Regional Conflicts
- Probable Cconflict Regions (Kazbegi, Truso gorge)
- Criminal Ascertainment of Conflicts: Smuggling in the Black Sea and other Organized Crimes
- The Role of IDPs in Conflict Resolution
Two among the above mentioned numerous topics were selected for the presentation at the next meeting as the most actual topics from the experts’ point of view:
The Government Policy in Relation with Gali and Akhalgori Regions and Current Situation There (reporter: Mr. Paata Zakareishvili, independent expert in conflict resolution)
- The Areas in Georgia Containing the Risk of the Future Conflict (reporter: Mr. Mamuka Areshidze, Caucasus Centre for Strategic Studies)
Additional issues of discussion and the meeting summary
At the meeting were discussed the tools of communication with media under the project framework, possible additional issues to be discussed at the next meeting apart from the reports (e.g. discussion of the EU Investigation Commission decision outcomes, EU Assembly session results, new neighboring policy of the European Union, Security of Energy Resources in region).