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International Alert: Georgia-Abkhazia on the road to 2020

International Alert

State, politics, economy and society
Date : Thursday, 31 January, 2013

On 1st October 2012 Georgians went to the polls to elect a new parliament, sweeping to victory the opposition coalition Georgian Dream headed by relative political newcomer Bidzina Ivanishvili. President Saakashvili gracefully ceded defeat on the day of the elections, announcing that he would go into opposition for the remainder of his term. There followed a period of euphoria, and somewhat political chaos, as the inexperienced new government settled into a period of 'co-habitation' with the president.

During this period of consolidation and lack of clarity of what this change in configuration meant for conflict resolution, International Alert launched a new ‘Dialogue through research’ process with Georgian and Abkhaz experts, inviting them to take stock of the challenges and opportunities facing both societies, taking a medium term view to 2020. Within the overall framework of state, politics, economy and society, each research team commissioned the other particular themes of interest – for example, the Georgian commissioned the Abkhaz to examine the condition of the Abkhaz statebuilding agenda; while the Abkhaz commissioned the Georgians to examine Georgia’s choice of democratic or authoritarian modernisation – both clearly trying to better understand which direction both are heading in. All were asked to identify key questions, the answers to which require broad societal consensus.

Questions posed through the dialogue reveal – perhaps unsurprisingly – similar aspirations of the two sides, regardless of their polarised political positions. Both articulate the challenges inherent in developing an economically strong, democratic, inclusive society that ensures broad civil and political participation and integration of minorities. Yet clearly the two societies are trying to achieve their aspirations in starkly different circumstances. While the Georgian papers pose questions as to how 'co-habitation' will affect their Euro-Atlantic agenda and whether they can expect a resumption of trade with Russia, the Abkhaz papers ask whether Abkhazia is heading for self-imposed isolation. While the Georgian papers suggest that a coalition government, however inefficient, is a safeguard against creeping authoritarianism, the Abkhaz papers express caution over the strengthening of vertical power.

Here we present nine discussion papers which put the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict into the context of democratisation and governance, statebuilding and nationbuilding, socio-economic development and international relations. In addition to addressing a domestic audience, the papers provide food for thought to the international community to consider their culpability in the current state of affairs due to past choices, and appeal to them to consider their role in future. The Georgians appeal to give the new coalition a chance; to understand the depth of demand within Georgian society for justice and not to fall prey to the sophisticated public relations machines of the old government. Implicit in the Abkhaz papers is an appeal to view Abkhazia’s statebuilding agenda in terms of how it can contribute to democracy and stability in the region, instead of treating it as illegitimate.

We hope you find the papers stimulating.

Democratisation and governance

Arda Inal-Ipa: Governance and democratisation in Abkhazia – characteristics and tendencies (English/Russian)
Ivlian Haindrava: Governance and modernisation – experience and challenges (English/Russian)

Nation building

Natella Akaba: The "Abkhazia" project: a political nation or community of minorities? (English/Russian)
Gia Tarkhan Mouravi: Prospects of nation building in Georgia – the next seven years (English/Russian)

Conflicts and external relations

Liana Kvarchelia: Abkhazia’s foreign relations (English/Russian)
Archil Gegeshidze: Georgia in a changing world – challenges of foreign relations and medium-term priorities (English/Russian)
Margarita Akhvlediani: Tbilisi’s approach to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict (English/Russian)

Socio-economic development

Inal Ardzinba: Socio-economic system in Abkhazia and development challenges (English/Russian)
Vladimer Papava: Georgia’s socio-economic development: medium-term prospects (English/Russian)

Alert's 'Dialogue through research' project started in 2008. It was first launched to promote a new way of thinking about the conflicts in the 'new realities' following the August 2008 war and subsequent recognition by Russia of Abkhazia as an independent state. Georgian and Abkhaz experts commissioned each other to research certain aspects of the conflict, in order to engage in joint analysis and public debate.

Source: International Alert

On 1st October 2012 Georgians went to the polls to elect a new parliament, sweeping to victory the opposition coalition Georgian Dream headed by relative political newcomer Bidzina Ivanishvili. President Saakashvili gracefully ceded defeat on the day of the elections, announcing that he would go into opposition for the remainder of his term. There followed a period of euphoria, and somewhat political chaos, as the inexperienced new government settled into a period of 'co-habitation' with the president.

During this period of consolidation and lack of clarity of what this change in configuration meant for conflict resolution, International Alert launched a new ‘Dialogue through research’ process with Georgian and Abkhaz experts, inviting them to take stock of the challenges and opportunities facing both societies, taking a medium term view to 2020. Within the overall framework of state, politics, economy and society, each research team commissioned the other particular themes of interest – for example, the Georgian commissioned the Abkhaz to examine the condition of the Abkhaz statebuilding agenda; while the Abkhaz commissioned the Georgians to examine Georgia’s choice of democratic or authoritarian modernisation – both clearly trying to better understand which direction both are heading in. All were asked to identify key questions, the answers to which require broad societal consensus.

Questions posed through the dialogue reveal – perhaps unsurprisingly – similar aspirations of the two sides, regardless of their polarised political positions. Both articulate the challenges inherent in developing an economically strong, democratic, inclusive society that ensures broad civil and political participation and integration of minorities. Yet clearly the two societies are trying to achieve their aspirations in starkly different circumstances. While the Georgian papers pose questions as to how 'co-habitation' will affect their Euro-Atlantic agenda and whether they can expect a resumption of trade with Russia, the Abkhaz papers ask whether Abkhazia is heading for self-imposed isolation. While the Georgian papers suggest that a coalition government, however inefficient, is a safeguard against creeping authoritarianism, the Abkhaz papers express caution over the strengthening of vertical power.

Here we present nine discussion papers which put the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict into the context of democratisation and governance, statebuilding and nationbuilding, socio-economic development and international relations. In addition to addressing a domestic audience, the papers provide food for thought to the international community to consider their culpability in the current state of affairs due to past choices, and appeal to them to consider their role in future. The Georgians appeal to give the new coalition a chance; to understand the depth of demand within Georgian society for justice and not to fall prey to the sophisticated public relations machines of the old government. Implicit in the Abkhaz papers is an appeal to view Abkhazia’s statebuilding agenda in terms of how it can contribute to democracy and stability in the region, instead of treating it as illegitimate.

We hope you find the papers stimulating.

Democratisation and governance

  • Arda Inal-Ipa: Governance and democratisation in Abkhazia – characteristics and tendencies (English/Russian)
  • Ivlian Haindrava:Governance and modernisation – experience and challenges (English/Russian)

Nation building

  • Natella Akaba:The "Abkhazia" project: a political nation or community of minorities? (English/Russian)
  • Gia Tarkhan Mouravi:Prospects of nation building in Georgia – the next seven years (English/Russian)

Conflicts and external relations

  • Liana Kvarchelia:Abkhazia’s foreign relations (English/Russian)
  • Archil Gegeshidze:Georgia in a changing world – challenges of foreign relations and medium-term priorities (English/Russian)
  • Margarita Akhvlediani:Tbilisi’s approach to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict (English/Russian)

Socio-economicdevelopment

  • Inal Ardzinba:Socio-economic system in Abkhazia and development challenges (English/Russian)
  • Vladimer Papava:Georgia’s socio-economic development: medium-term prospects (English/Russian)

Alert's 'Dialogue through research' project started in 2008. It was first launched to promote a new way of thinking about the conflicts in the 'new realities' following the August 2008 war and subsequent recognition by Russia of Abkhazia as an independent state. Georgian and Abkhaz experts commissioned each other to research certain aspects of the conflict, in order to engage in joint analysis and public debate.

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