Black Sea Peacebuilding Network
Report on the sixth meeting of the representatives of non-governmental organizations and independent experts
On January 19, 2010 the sixth meeting of the experts involved in Georgian component of “The Black Sea Peacebuilding Network” project was held in Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS).
The project is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and in cooperation with the Crisis Management Initiative.
At the meeting, two representatives of the Experts Working Group provided their presentations on the following topics: Pseudo-conflicts and quasi-peacebuilding processes in Caucasus - (Alexander Rusetski, South Caucasus Regional Security Institute) and – The current stage of the implementing action plan of the government strategy on refugees (Iulia Kharashvili, „Tankhmoba“ - assocciation of IDP women).
Pseudo-conflicts and quasi-peacebuilding processes in Caucasus
(Critics of the documents submitted by Taliavini Commission, alternative vision and main fragments of new peacebuilding process development).
The presenter briefed the attendees on his vision concerning the so-called peacebuilding processes which, in reality, represent quasi-peacebuilding process only. The paradigm of its development shows that this process is not oriented on positive results from strategic point of view; and behind this veil, various arrangements and adventures takes place, which threatens Georgia, region and international security. This is, first of all, “good work” of Georgian diplomatic school and scientific and analytical elite.
The presenter provided detailed overview of the preconditions of 2008 August war and underlined that the above mentioned war did not start on the territory of Georgia and the main motivation and object of the war were not only the territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. The main object of the conflict was Baku –Tbilisi – Ceyhan pipeline. The war of August 5, 2008 started with the explosion of this pipeline. One of the wings of Kurd workers party took responsibility on themselves for the mentioned explosion.
As mentioned by the presenter, it gives us the right to consider the decision of Taliavini commission (1 700 000 EURO was spent on its preparation) as the document which does not reflect fundamental analysis of exiting confrontation and represents the part of quasi-peacebuilding process which creates the illusion of problem solving efforts among the international community.
The expert also provided other facts, which to his point of view gives us the right to provide negative evaluation to the final document of Taliavini commission, these are:
1. 2008 August war did not start in Georgia, it started on the territory of Turkey, NATO member country (!). Russian federation and its union terrorist organizations attacked BTC pipeline.
2. Apart from the official states (Georgia and Russian federation) the war involved terrorist organizations, informal armed groups and military forces of secessionist ethnocratic regimes in the form of unions of Russian federation.
3. Despite the fact that main military actions were taking place on the territory of Georgia and the military confrontation was mainly between the military forces of Georgia and Russian federation, this war can not be considered as Georgia-Russia war only. It would be a mistake from diplomatic and political point of view.
4. Of course it is not under the interest of NATO countries to confess that Russia and its unions hit the pipeline located on the territory of NATO member country and provided the occupation of the territory of NATO union country (Georgia). NATO was powerless to respond adequately and protect Georgia and international energetic object from aggression.
5. Through this operation Russia managed to introduce and deepen the disagreement between NATO member states which was reflected in the official statement of Turkish government by expressing willingness to limit the participation of external actors of the region in South Caucasus and establishing bilateral control mechanisms of this region together with Russia. It was reflected in the joint statement of the meeting between Erdogan and Medvedev in Moscow.
After listing the above mentioned facts, the presenter provided his own vision on the necessary peacebuilding process to overcome crisis:
1. In current situation Georgia should be reviewed not only as a party, but first of all – as the victim of the geopolitical confrontation between Russian federation and NATO (at this stage it is not necessary from Georgian government to make such statement. This is the prerogative of healthy part of opposition parties and, possibly of the presidents of some sister countries).
2. Taking into account that NATO and Russia are the main parties of real confrontation, it is necessary to create bilateral adequate format “NATO-Russia” for peacebuilding negotiations under which joint plan shall be elaborated. Also, the most important issues such as the inoccupation of territories and formation of NATO-Russia joint temporary police peacekeeping forces shall be discussed.
3. The main objective of these forces should be the support to the IDP return process, ensuring the conduct of democratic elections, creation of mixed police contingents within the representative of local population.
After the presentation interesting discussion was held between the experts participating in the meeting. The discussion referred to the frequently used terminology in relation with conflicts; it was mentioned that the parties should agree on common terms. The experts also mentioned that the research institutes and scientists should become more active towards conflict regions. The discussion also concerned the ethnic Georgians left as the minority in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as the mechanisms of their security. The issues concerning Georgians’ property in Abkhazia were also discussed.
The opinion was expressed that the state commission should be created to conduct researches: what kind of sources are used by the diplomats, politicians or civil society to obtain information about conflicts.
The current stage of the implementing action plan of the government strategy on refugees
During second part of experts meeting, the presenter spoke about the current stage of the implementing action plan of the government strategy on refugees.
A solid decision for refugees might be the return to their permanent place of residence and reintegration, which is the ideal option though not always possible, or integration on new territory of the same country. Between these two possibilities the refugee should make a choice based on the information delivered (informed choice) – it should be not only official information but also the results of an independent research and perhaps “go and see” visits or visiting the places of possible return.
According to the guidelines, each refugee has the right to return to his/her own land. The government often declares that the final goal in relation with refugees is their voluntary return; this is the wish of refugees as well. Unfortunately, on the background of current political reality, this goal is considered as the long term perspective; before that their social and economic conditions should be improved in order to ensure their integration in society. This is one of the challenges for refugees as they often think that the integration and the improvement of living conditions mean the refusal on return. There is a perception that if their living conditions are improved, they will lose the status of refugees and complete integration which is not acceptable for everybody.
Based on the presentation, the main problems to be solved in order to support the social integration of refugees into society are:
• Providing living conditions (accommodation/settlement)
• Access to the quality medical service and education
All these components have been reflected in the government strategy and action plan on refugees which was approved on July 30, 2008, one week prior to war.
The war 2008 and the occupation of Georgian territory by Russia changed the attitude of the society towards the refugees. The necessity of emergency assistance forced the international community to mobilize all existing resources. In addition to the humanitarian and emergency assistance of the population affected by the war 2008, the Georgian government simultaneously started the elaboration of new strategy and plan of action for the refugees of 90-ies.
The government offered solid accommodation to the affected population and together with the humanitarian assistance started the building of so called “cottages”. The main idea was that for those affected by the war it would be convenient to settle in the villages, in similar conditions, near the permanent place of residence. The refugees were given a cottage/apartment which was all furnished and equipped (refrigerator, TV set), tools, food. Currently 4 379 cottages and 1 524 apartments are built in 40 new settlements.
20 800 refugees are accommodated in new settlements, the rest of the refugees remain in compact centers (around 4 000 person) and private sector (approx. 1 500).