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Monday, 18 June 2018


In Ankara experts have been deciding how to bring about security in the Caucasus

2008-11-11 09:33

The Russian development fund ‘The Institute of Eurasian Studies' has carried out a round table in Ankara devoted to the theme, "New architecture of security in the South Caucasus after 08.08.2008". Naturally, the approximately fifty experts from all regions of the South Caucasus were focusing mainly on Georgia and the situation surrounding it. According to the head of the fund Valeriy Tursunov, Ankara was chosen because the South Ossetian and Abkhazian delegations would not have gone to Tbilisi, the Georgian experts would have refused to meet in Tskhinvali or Sukhumi, and a visit to Baku or Yerevan would have been problematic for the Armenians and Azerbaijanis, respectively.


1/4/1/41.jpegBefore starting their work the organizers joked sombrely that if the discussion were to escalate the delegates would have to make do without firearms. But to everyone's surprise, a full working day passed without any excesses. Outbursts of emotion only came when the speakers were delving deeply into history. The representatives of each Caucasian ethnic group have their own conception about the borders of where they reside, hence delving into the past invariably provokes a veritable storm of emotions.

The main subject around which the conversation revolved was the genocide of Ossetians. An adviser to the South Ossetian president Konstantin Kochiev said that about 1 percent of its inhabitants might have been killed, and suggested that the participants in the round table should imagine what the scale of the tragedy would have been if it were dealing with 1 percent of a billion people. Admittedly, Mr. Kochiev never stated an exact figure - when he was again asked about this behind the scenes, he retorted with irritation: "How many does it need to be to suit you?"

The head of the Caucasian Centre for Strategic Research, a Georgian Mamuka Areshidze expressed his condolences for the Ossetian people but reported that a friend of his from Tskhinvali, who had died back in January, had for some reason appeared on the list of those killed.

Experts from Georgia and especially representatives of its diaspora in Russia spent a long time criticising Saakashvili. And they asked for responsibility for the president and ministers' behaviour not to be shifted onto all Georgian people. After which they raised the question of the federalization of Georgia. Some said that reviewing the nature of Tbilisi's relations with the regions of Javakheti, populated by Armenians, and Kvemo-Kartli, by Azerbaijanis, in favour of extending their powers would not only prevent these regions from embarking upon the path taken by Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but would even draw back these break-away republics. Although it is extremely difficult to believe that the latter could be true.

The question of federalization provoked a storm of indignation from the Georgian delegation. It said that Moscow was not even attempting to conceal its plans - to break Georgia up into ten "appendage principalities". Later the issue of autonomy for Javakheti flared up almost by itself. This might have been because two representatives from this region were present at the conference. Tbilisi officials then spent a long time explaining how they had got there. It emerged that the representatives of Georgia's Armenian minority had arrived separately from the main delegation. The authorities stigmatized them for lacking any official status, saying that the attempts by the Javakheti Armenians to decide their fate independently were groundless, and from then on they undertook to irritate the province. In Akhaltsikhe several high profile trials were just about to start against representatives of the local party "A United Javakheti".

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