A Farrago of Misinformation from a Former Minister for Europe
ALLS - A response to the article "Abkhazian Elections: Russia's pawn in Georgian game?" of Denis MacShane, a Labour Party member of the British parliament and former minister for Europe in Tony Blair's government. He was a member of the Party of European Socialists executive committee for several years.
Abkhazia has been to the polls and elected the one to whom people legitimately, honestly and independently gave the majority of their voices. Why does it happen nowadays that certain Members of the British Parliament one after another, under the pressure of Georgian propaganda and in full admiration of Georgian disloyalty to Russia, involve themselves in the complexity of Abkhaz-Georgian relations? Would it not be more equitable and prudent if, instead, they displayed a lack of prejudice and balance between both parties, assuming that they really wish peace for this part of the world, which from ancient times has never enjoyed sustained tranquillity because of its favourable geographical location and which has now seemingly become so important for Europe and especially for two British MPs (former junior-ministers in the government of Tony Blair) with self-confessed interests in European affairs, namely the Rt. Hon. Bruce George and Denis MacShane?
The whole world observed the election-process in Abkhazia thanks to a range of observers from across the globe, and, without any hiccups, it went smoothly without the slightest hint of trouble, thereby confounding the expectations of those Jeremiahs who were eagerly expecting a bloody scenario. The prudence and wisdom of the citizenry of Abkhazia exhibited that day for some reason apparently darkened the minds of some supposedly civilised commentators.
The most staggering thing is that a British ex-minister for Europe arrogantly deigns to pronounce negatively on the elections in Abkhazia without ever having visited the country. Like others one could name, he has undiscriminating swallowed all that the Georgian propaganda-machine has fed him, including the fabricated notion that Abkhazia is under the occupation of the Russian Federation. Indeed, the phrase ‘occupied territory’ has been repeated so often over recent months that it has become quite hackneyed. And, of course, it offers the international community a quite false picture of the nature of everyday reality in Abkhazia; Georgian policy-makers continue to try to influence Westerners (especially the gullible Americans) by losing no opportunity to disseminate the phrase. What is most alarming is that the latter evince no interest in finding out if there is any substance to the claim. Can they not see that it is a ruse designed to drag out more money and assistance for this weak Caucasian state, Georgia emerged after the post-Soviet wars that it provoked itself against two of the autonomies (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) created artificially during the black terror of (Georgian!) Stalin’s hegemony and seems (quity falsely) to lay the blame for its self-imposed miseries on others — a classic example of the psychosis of victimhood.
What credence can be given to the MacShane farrago of misinformation when he writes that the election in Abkhazia in 2009 was "won" by Moscow's man, Sergei Bagapsch [Bagapsh]? The fact is that in the 2004 election, Moscow made no secret of its backing for the late Bagapsh’s opponent, Raoul Khadzhimba, and was not pleased when his opponent won. If he were acquainted with the recent history of our recently deceased president, Macshane would never have written such nonsense. It would be nice if all the countries who have come out against recognising the legitimacy of the elections in Abkhazia could take the time to remember their own, often uneasy, paths to modern statehood.
Russia recognised the independence of Abkhazia, and it did not shrink from encouraging other countries to do the same. It would be interesting to examine when and how quickly this or that European country earned recognition. What about Kosovo? Was recognition here not achieved basically because Kosovo lies very close to Western Europe and it was hoped to quench the threat of Balkan fire being reunited by the recognition of a second Albanian state under the UN umbrella? This is the same august body which refuses to listen to Abkhazian or Ossetian opinions and privileges just one side in the conflicts, namely the aggressor-state of Georgia.
Concerning the fate of refugees and their right to return, what is to be said of those Abkhazian descendants forced to leave Abkhazia in 1864 - 1877-78? According to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, those who use arms in an armed struggle and then flee do not fall under the international definition of refugees. The responsibility for these people falls fully on the Georgian side. It is important to note here that a great many of those who fled from Abkhazia were recent immigrants. They were forcely resettled by Stalin and his cruel assistant Beria from Megrelia to Abkhazia. See Demographic change in Abkhazia 1897–1989, http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/georgia-abkhazia/graph2.php. This will be very interesting for Mr. Macshane to compare with the data introduced by him in his article. His sophisticated reasoning that "Russia is content to create a no man’s land without freedom or democracy. Georgia’s President Saakashvili has pledged not to use force to take back the territory and so Tbilisi is trying a different strategy of opening up Georgian healthcare and educational facilities to residents of Abkhazia, rebuilding transport links, and facilitating greater connections between communities ripped apart by conflict" shows again where this predistined interpretation comes from.
Abkhazia is building a democratic state and it is supposed to be deeply committed to the principles of democracy, though the circumstances in which it exists have been more then hard and all this recent time especially the country stumbles over the ignorance or misunderstanding of international community.
Finally, what would the esteemed ex-Minister for Europe say if Georgia decides to recognise Abkhazia? This idea has started to circulate among Georgian society of late, promulgated by no less than the person who began the war on our soil in 1992, Eduard Shevardnadze. MacShane and others of his persuasion would do well to ponder this point.