Abkhazia must chart a course for tomorrow and beyond. A 21st-century Abkhaz state must be prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie before it.
It is essential that all Abkhaz at home and in the diaspora chart a course in rebuilding their homeland. They must transform their resources into an economic engine that creates jobs and wealth for their people. The diaspora, which has been living in exile for the entire 20th century, must play a significant role in transforming their society and contribute in building the new Abkhaz nation.
Abkhazia needs a sensible and pragmatic privatization program, and it must provide opportunities to foreigners who wish to invest in the homeland, both in real estate and business. By encouraging foreign investment in Abkhazia, it will promote hard currency, jobs and technology that are currently scarce. Abkhazia needs hotels, tourism, travel, export of natural resources and stable and reliable transportation and banking systems that encourage investment. The young people of Abkhazia deserve a bright future, devoid of Soviet economics and Georgian domination. That chapter of history has been closed forever.
The Abkhazia of today and tomorrow must achieve total harmony and respect for all religions. It should embrace the wonderful mosaic of all religious beliefs, free from government influence. At the same time, the people must be sensitive to the awakening of Russian Orthodoxy and nationalism among their Russian friends to the north and within Abkhazia and how it will relate to the welcoming signs made by the indigenous Abkhaz to the new settlers from the diaspora.
Georgia plays no role in the political and economic future of Abkhazia. Georgia represents the past. All Abkhaz must look to the future. Accordingly, the only discussions with their neighbors to the east should be centered on normalization of relations and economic cooperation between the two Caucasian states. All nongovernmental organizations should cease to operate in Abkhazia, and offices of the United Nations' mission to Georgia should be removed from Abkhaz territory.
If Abkhazia is an independent state, then it is time to act like an independent state. The path that the Abkhaz take will be determined by the choices that they make. Choose wisely.
Yanal Kazan is president of Abkhaz Alliance based in Paterson, New Jersey.
Source: The Moscow Times