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Europe must stand up for Abkhazia and S. Ossetia: 'Response to recent correspondence in The Guardian'

Pace Vaclav Havel and the co-signatories of his letter (Guardian 22nd September), ''Europe must stand up for Georgia'' 

The lessons of history seem not to have been learnt by your correspondents, for they blindly ignore the fact of the existence of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as entities in their own right. As long as the problem is (mis)conceived as a purely Russo-Georgian affair, in which Russia is demonized as the aggressor and Georgia the victim, there will be no resolution. Mr. Havel and his colleagues are perhaps unaware that the borders of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic were drawn by Georgian nationals, Stalin and Beria, who incorporated our Abkhazian homeland into Georgia against the will of the Abkhazians themselves. This should be considered an act of national shame on a par with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact mentioned by the authors. Such biased and superficial thinking on the part of the letter's renowned signatories raises doubts about the abilities of EU policy-makers correctly to formulate policy towards Georgia in line with the continent's purported commitment to democracy and minority rights.

The EU’s 27 democratic leaders should now be thinking not of the geopolitical implications of Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia but rather how best to safeguard the security of the Abkhazian and S. Ossetian peoples in the face of the continuing threat from a Georgia which has consistently refused to sign a non-aggression pact.

Rather than pen letters urging EU support for Georgia, the first signatory, Vaclav Havel, could more usefully have advised Tbilisi on how to follow his own country's experience of a bloodless national divorce, which is why we say that Europe should follow Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela in recognizing two states which want to normalize relations with neighboring Georgia.

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To Mr. Irakli Alasania:

Judging by Mr. Alasania's recent letter, Georgia had long planned military intervention in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The EU report prepared by Heidi Tagliavini and other experts has now confirmed Georgia’s aggression. Can history provide any precedent whereby such action has led to reconciliation between peoples or reunification of a fractured state? Rather than talking about mutual respect, Alasania should address his fellow Georgians with a recommendation properly to respect their Abkhazian and Ossetian neighbors.

Alasania demands of the International Community that it guarantee the security of Georgian refugees, but how can one take seriously such 'demands', when the refugee-numbers quoted in Georgian sources exceed the actual total of Georgian resident in pre-war Abkhazia, where some 60,000 have been allowed to return? Moreover, Georgia's former UN Ambassador fails to inform his readers that in 1993 Amnesty International sent the then-leader of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, a letter accusing Georgia of ethnic cleansing AGAINST Abkhazians. Georgian security has supposedly been acutely observed by a cohort of OSCE and now EU observers. Despite this, Georgia managed to attack S. Ossetia on 7 August 2008 and to escape punishment. The EU's pusillanimous silence last August and since will probably lead to further manifestations of Georgian extremism.

On the basis of the good relations he has established with certain leading members of the Abkhazian government, Alasania optimistically hopes to be able to negotiate with the Abkhazians. This clearly attests to the peaceful nature of us Abkhazians and our readiness to compromise, despite the deep wounds inflicted by Georgia's bringing war to our homeland on 14th August 1992.

Dear Mr. Alasania and Georgians, the only way to achieve reconciliation between Abkhazia and Georgia is for Georgia to recognize Abkhazia as an independent state and to build with it normal, good-neighbourly relations.

Yours sincerely,
Asida Chichba & Liudmila Agrba
Abkhaz Civil Society Activists

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