Caucasus Dialogues

We are proud to present four more articles in our Caucasus Dialogues series, which focuses on current issues evolving in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict context. This month the articles focus on three different themes: the role of the church in the conflict context; the new politics of the new Georgian government; and the role and effectiveness of the Abkhaz parliament.

The past few months and weeks have seen dynamic developments in the internal politics of Georgia and Abkhazia. The change in government in Georgia, through the sweeping victory of the Georgian Dream coalition in last October's parliamentary elections, was a sign of the people’s dissatisfaction with social and economic development – as well as a protest against the perceived injustices of the former government.

Since then, in relation to the conflicts, the new government has made a myriad of overtures towards the Abkhaz (and South Ossetians), and there are signs of an apparent thawing of relations with Moscow – a process in which the Georgian and Russian Orthodox church leadership appear to have played a diplomatic role. However, the government and parliamentary majority being from a different camp to the president has resulted in "dual power" or "co-habitation". This has forced the government and president for the first time to reckon with each other, and for parliament to have to engage in compromise and consensus building on important political matters.

While Abkhaz society is quite cut off from the political processes taking place beyond the Inguri river, similar socio-political dynamics are developing there as well. Recent opposition protests making demands of an economic nature (e.g. increased tariffs on energy) which escalated into political demands (e.g. the resignation of the government) have highlighted growing discontent on day-to-day issues within Abkhaz society. However, moderate voices from within civil society have expressed concern over such confrontational politics, calling for dialogue and broad public debate including with representatives of civil society – but also highlighting the role of parliament in facilitating discussion.

It is hard not to draw parallels about the nature of democratic processes in the two societies and the relations between the executive and legislative.

We hope you find the following articles interesting:

  • "The Abkhaz parliament – In search of balance", by Ibragim Chkadua, journalist and photographer from Sukhum/i (English/Russian)
  • “New government – New policy”, by Ivlian Haindrava, Director of the South Caucasus Studies Programme at the Tbilisi based Republican Institute (English/Russian)
  • “The role of the church in the Georgian-Russian relations”, by Nadezhda Venediktova, writer and columnist for asarkia.info in Sukhum/i (English/Russian)
  • “The role of the church in the Georgian-Russian relations”, by Professor Jemal Gamakharia (English/Russian)

You can also read articles on the ecclesiastical conflict by the same authors from September 2011:

  • Nadezhda Venediktova: The ecclesiastical conflict in Abkhazia: Evidence of the democratisation of society (English/Russian)
  • Jemal Gamakharia: The ecclesiastical-lay congress in Abkhazia: Religious and political consequences (English/Russian)

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International 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.

You can read earlier publications from the project here, which cover the following themes:

  • The North Caucasus factor in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict context
  • Security guarantees in the Georgian-Abkhaz context
  • International engagement
  • The politics of non-recognition
  • The de-isolation of Abkhazia

Or you can read articles from our Caucasus Dialogues series here, which are available on the following themes:

  • Georgian parliamentary elections
  • Georgian Concept on North Caucasus
  • EU and US approaches to the conflict
  • Russia’s entry to the WTO
  • Presidential elections in Abkhazia
  • Abkhaz ecclesiastical conflict
  • Recognition of the Circassian genocide

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This project is funded by: