Diary of Bilateral Meetings
By Manana Gurgulia
and Georgians do not view bilateral meetings the same way. Meetings in which
representatives from various NGOs participate do not always go smoothly. Not
every meeting has tangible results or leads to concrete actions and projects.
Obviously, discussing humanitarian programs, projects, and problems at a round
table is better than fighting with one another. Participants of seminars,
round table discussions and meetings can have opposing viewpoints and political
sympathies. For Abkhaz, these meetings are a way to be heard, to declare our
interests and misgivings.
8-10, 1996, Moscow
British non-governmental organization, International Alert, convened the meeting.
In February 1996, at a conference on managing conflicts in the former Soviet
Union, participants proposed this second meeting. Roman Dbar (Ecological Society
"Apsabara") and Manana Gurgulia (The Foundation for Citizens
Initiative and the Future of Humankind) attended the initial meeting.
of Abkhaz and Georgian NGOs attended the meeting in Moscow.
from Abkhazia were:
* Daur Bargangia member of Parliament
* Manana Gurgulia Deputy Director, information agency, "Abkhazpress"
* Tamaz Ketsba Co-chairman, Foundation for Citizens Initiative
and the Future of Humankind
* Abesalom Lepsaia staff, Foundation for Citizens Initiative
and the Future of Humankind
* Giorgi Otyrba Deputy Director, Abkhazian Association for Support
of the UN
Georgian NGOs were:
* Paata Zakareishvili Director of Staff for the Parliamentary
Committee on Human Rights
* Marina Pagava doctor
* Vakhtang Khaladze Director, International Center for Conflict
Resolution, Conflicts and Negotiations
* Soso Tsiskarivshvili Director, Center for Social Connections
* Tamara Chikovani Correspondent, Georgian radio station "Freedom"
to difficulties crossing the Abkhazian-Russian border, Roman Dbar was unable
facilitators from International Alert were General Secretary Kumar Rupesing
and the Coordinator for the former Soviet Union, Anna Matveeva.
agreed at the beginning not to discuss politics, although it was impossible
to avoid it entirely during the course of our work. The discussions lasted
two days. We talked about problems due to the economic and informational blockade
of Abkhazia, popular stereotypes, and ways of overcoming the psychological
after-effects of war. The great difficulties we had at the Russian border
on our way to Moscow made our conversation about travel problems quite vivid.
Participants agreed that prohibiting freedom of movement violates a fundamental
Otyrba and Abesalom Lepsaia suggested a joint project to examine academic
research, conferences and publications about models of government structures
and relationships after war. To build greater trust, we discussed projects
in environmental protection, journalist training, information exchanges, archive
restoration, independent communication, overcoming stereotypes and the psychological
after-effects of war. All projects would be new and treat each side equally.
Although we agreed to speak carefully to the press about the meetings
work and results, a series of publications and interviews appeared in the
Georgian press with inadequate and biased appraisals of the meeting.
January to 1 February, 1997, Shtadtshleining, Austria An Abkhazian-Georgian
dialogue/seminar with NGOs and research institutions.
organizers of this meeting were the Berghofskiy Research Center for Constructive
Conflict Resolution (Berlin), the Austrian research center "Center for
Peace and Conflict Resolution" (Shtadtshleining, Austria), and the United
Nations Volunteers in Georgia organized this meeting.
participants from Abkhazia were:
* Giorgi Otyrba Political scientist; Deputy Director, Abkhazian
Association for Assistance to the UN.
* Vakhtang Khagba Director, Abkhazian Association for Assistance
to the UN.
* Leila Tania researcher and staff, Foundation for Citizens
Initiatives and the Future of Humankind
* Tamaz Ketsba Co-chairman, Foundation for Citizens Initiatives
and the Future of Humankind
* Anna Keropian Administrative assistant to the President
* Yury Toriia Vice-President, Abkhazian Association for Assistance
to the UN
* Batal Kobakhia Executive Director, Centre for Humanitarian
* Akhra Bzhania Director, Computer Center (Sukhum)
* Manana Gurgulia Deputy Director, Information Agency "Abkhazpress"
* Roman Dbar Director, Ecological Inspection Agency; Vice-president,
Ecological Society "Apsabara"
* Liana Kvarchelia Coordinator, Centre for Humanitarian Programmes
participants from Georgia were:
* Paata Zakareishvili Director of Staff for the Committee on
Human Rights of the Georgian Parliament
* Ghia Anchabadze historian, staff member of the Academy of
Sciences of Georgia
* Vakhtang Khmaladze Director, League for Protection of the
* Mikheil Mirziashvili Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy
* Julia Kharashvili International Executive Committee, Helsinki
* Marina Murvanidze Director, Multiple-Assistance to Georgia
* Niko Chavchavadze Director, Institute of Philosophy, Academy
of Sciences, Georgia
* Giorgi Gogsadze Director, Center for the Development of Democracy
and Conflict Resolution
* Alexander Russetsky Psychologist, Helsinki Citizens Assembly
* Manana Darzhania Journalist
* Soso Tsiskarishvili Director, TASIS Bureau, Tbilisi
seminars goal was to be a place of information exchange, for participants
to discuss several regional problems, determined in advance. The main topics
of discussion were:
* The building of democratic institutions in multinational societies undergoing
* International standards in human and minority rights
* Government-building and division of power among citizens
* Positive examples of resolving ethno-political conflicts
conference also touched on issues of political status, humanitarian needs,
the position of refugees and displaced peoples, increasing trust, and NGO
roles in society. Such dialogue, with the participation of international experts
and political scientists, was interesting and useful for us all. Lecturers
were: Professor Egbert Yan (Mangeimsk University, Germany), Professor Bill
Boyring (Essex University, Great Britian), Ditrich Shperling (Parliament member,
Republic of Germany), and Dr. Mark Hofman (London School of Economics and
participants agreed it is important to solve the conflict peacefully and to
May, 1997, Warsaw
OSCE Mission in Georgia and the OSCE Bureau on Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights organized the first meeting of Abkhazian, Georgian and Ossetian
journalists. Participants exchanged information on the mass media and its
financial and legal status. They also discussed journalism ethics and the
medias role in escalating and resolving conflicts. Participants concluded
that such meetings are useful and should be held regularly. They agreed that
issues discussed should be expanded to include written journalism, radio,
television, and information agencies. Participants made the following suggestions:
* Establish an exchange of information and materials between information agencies
and newspaper editors
* Exchange television/radio productions
* Form contacts between professional journalism agencies
* Conduct the next meeting of Abkhazian, Georgian and Ossetian journalists
before October, 1997
* Hold a conference for South Caucasian journalists on "The Medias
Role in Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus"
following participated in the conference:
* Manana Gurgulia Information agency "Abkhazpress"
* Guram Amkuab Abkhazian television
* Vitalii Chamagua "Respublika Abkhazii" (newspaper)
* Vitalii Sharia "Ekho Abkhazii" (newspaper)
* Natela Akaba Center for the Support of Democracy and Human
Rights in Abkhazia
* Stanislav Lakoba independent journalist
* Liuba Eliashvili Georgian Television-Radio Corporation, the
* Vasilii Maglaberidze "Iuzhnaia Osetiia" (newspaper)
* Eka Khoperiia "Kapetali" (newspaper)
* Yuri Goldman "Sakinform," a Georgian information
* Vazha Inasaridze Federation of Georgian Journalists
* Marina Yanovkaia "Iuzhnaiia Osetia" (newspaper)
* Batradzd Kharebov South Ossetian information agency "Res"
* Marina Razorenova expert
* Petr Ivashkevich OSCE Mission in Georgia
* Paulina Merino OCSE Bureau for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights, Warsaw
July 1997, Yerevan
1-4 July, British NGO International Alert organized a Georgian-Abkhaz seminar
in Yerevan on popularly-held stereotypes. Psychologists, journalists and NGO
representatives from Georgia and Abkhazia participated in the seminar, including:
* Natella Akaba Center for the Support of Democracy and Human
* Izida Chania Information Agency "Abkhazpress," Sukhum
* Mikael Nersesian Student, Abkhaz State University, Sukhum
* Giorgi Khutishvili International Center for Conflict and Negotiations
* Giorgi Nizharadze International Center for Conflict and Negotiations
* Naira Gelashvili Writer; Director, "The Caucasian House,"
* Klem MacCarthy Independent consultant on conflicts and social
* Anna Matveeva International Alert, Great Britian
discussed stereotypes, with no concrete results.
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