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'There Is no Way to Peace; Peace Is the Way' - An Appeal to the Georgian Nation

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Mikhail Saakashvili, president of Georgia: "They cut off the heads of Georgians, kicked them out of their houses, destroyed Georgian monuments, left Georgian children on the pass in winter from Abkhazia to Svaneti, and they crashed Georgian helicopters. After all these events, do you want us to apologize? Which international organizations do the people represent who are working on projects that envisage expressing repent towards Abkhazians? Who gives them grants for doing such stupid things?"

Tina Khidasheli, leader of the “Republic Party”: “I have already expressed my personal position regarding the campaign. However I cannot speak about the position of our party because I have heard about it from you for the first time. As for my personal opinion, I think that not Georgian population but Georgian State should apologize. The state must apologize to those IDPs who were forced out from Abkhazia and to the victims of the war. If you consider yourself a state you should prevent the war on your territory. I cannot observe any problems regarding the campaign. Although I do not know the initiators, I appreciate the idea.”

Mikheil Machavariani, leader of the “National Movement”, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Parliament: “When we appear before the historic court, we should be guiltless to our conscious and to our country. I think that any grant, despite its value, does not cost as much as our history. Although the situation was complicated in 1992 in Georgia, it was a provocation initiated by Special Forces. Representatives of the North Caucasus took part in it too. Consequently, similar activities betray state interests, disfigure the history and are launched by crazy people…I prefer to negotiate face-to-face with Abkhaz people rather than to apology to them. Soso Shatberashvili, leader of “Labor Party”: “Georigan people have nothing to apology for. It is only Edward Shevardnadze who has to apology to Georgian population for unleashing two civil wars in our country- in Tbilisi and in Abkhazia. Both of them were provoked by Russian Empire; but former Georgian president satisfied their wishes. Thus, Georgian people do not have to be sorry about anything as well as Abkhaz population. These two nations got into the Russian trap and that shameful war finished with bad results. Nobody should claim that either Georgian or Abkhaz people won the war; both of them were defeated. The position of our party is that Tengiz Kitovani, Shevardnadze and every person who unleashed the war should be prosecuted. In addition to that we demand the punishment of Saakashvili who promised the demonstrators during the Rose Revolution to overthrow Ardzinba’s Regime in Abkhazia. In fact, now Abkhazia might be declared De-jure republic.”

Giorgi Tsanava, a representative of the Parliamentary opposition: “Georgian people have nothing to apology for. However, the government should apologize because the Georgian state should not have attacked Abkhazia like that. The state had its responsibilities and it should not have reacted to the provocations of illegal armed formations in Abkhazia. The Georgian government had some other responsibilities and it was maintenance of territorial integrity. However, incorrect activities and genocide had tragic results. Consequently, present government should apologize for the past mistakes as it is the legal descendent of the previous authority. If any non-governmental organization thinks that he must apology, it can act according to its wish. I have noting against it.”

Eldar Kvernadze, a representative of the Parliament Majority: “I estimate the situation not only as a MP but as an ordinary citizen. Tolerance should be well considered and thought–over. Generally people do not realize how well they are treated and they demand to get more and more. We should not apology to them because they have to apology to us. Not only Abkhaz people but Russians and many other international organizations too, who think that they should not bother about Georgia’s problem and keep good relationship with much bigger country, Russia instead, must apology to us. My position is that we have nothing to apology for. I agree with the president’s statement. At last we have the president who cares about the Georgian dignity and he does not have to say sorry to anyone.”

Guram Vakhtangashvili, MP from the Liakhvi Gorge:  “I do not know that non-governmental organization. According to my information most NGOs are aimed to eat up the grants. They pretend to do something for conflict zones but in fact they eat up the grants. Moreover, if they intend to apology to somebody, I have a question whether they have any employee in the organization who committed horrible things in the conflict zones. They might have tortured people there. My people do not have to apology to anybody and would never do it either. If somebody has acted sadistically, s/he can do whatever s/he wants. They can go and kneel down in front of them. It is done to gain some grants. They are grant-eaters. We have nothing to apology for.”

Beso Jugeli, representative of the Parliamentary Majority, the chairman of the Fraction “Majorities”: “I agree with the President’s statement. Georgian people do not have to apology to anybody and particularly to Abkhaz people who launched genocide on Georgian people and killed ten thousands of people. Shall we apologize to them after all that? What do we have to be sorry for? Let the NGO, who launched the campaign, explain me that. It may aim to gain some grant. They are funded and in order to justify their existence, they have started that shameful campaign.”

Manana Nachkebia, parliamentary opposition: “It depends whom we are apologizing to. Personally I have apologized to my Abkhaz friends several times and I am ready to do it again. I will apologize to those ordinary people who did not take part in those military activities and think that it was a great mistake. We might really have to apologize to such people. As for those people who ran the situation, we have nothing to apologize for.”

Pavle Kublashvili, representative of the Parliamentary Majority: “I cannot see any reason to have such capitulating attitude to the problem. Just the opposite, we must think about the reasons of the conflict and speak about those people who were guilty in it. Our fault was not such a big in the conflict at all and we should think about the sources to resolve the problem. If somebody calls upon us to apologize, it is a great mistake and I am sorry they have similar attitude to the problem. I am sure that absolute majority of the population does not agree with the campaign. If anybody was guilty for the conflict, it was not Georgian side, trust me.”

Levan Berdzenishvili, representative of the parliamentary opposition: “First of all, our government should apologize to our population at least for not having prevented the war. At the most they must apologize for having unleashed the war in Abkhazia. If our government does not have anything to apologize for, it does not mean that present government is not legal descendent of the previous authority. We must apologize to Georgian and Abkhaz people, to IDPs and those who stayed there, because the war was horrible for all of us. However it does not mean that only we have to apologize. The Abkhaz also must be sorry for their cruelty during the war.”

Nino Kalandadze, representative of the Parliamentary majority: “I have to admit that I do not remember the President made any statement regarding the appeal and neither have I known if any statement was made regarding this organization. However, anyway, if this organization aims to gain grants and money and have idealist attitude to the situation, I think we must receive the apology from Abkhaz people. We are the nation who was kicked out from its territory and Abkhaz people took part in it. They have great fault in the war. This appeal insults the whole nation, the nation who believes that Abkhazia is a part of Georgia.”

Nodar Grigalashvili, representative of the Parliamentary opposition, the chairman of the Education and Science Committee: “Poor them. This question does not need any further discussion, poor them.”

Giorgi Tsagareishvili, representative of the Parliamentary opposition: “I have read the text of the appeal. It is too difficult question. During the Abkhazian conflict many mistakes were made and we witnessed everything. I well remember how military conflict started in Abkhazia, how they provoked the situation with the support of Russia. I admit that we also made mistakes. We committed many military crimes too. There are dozens of volumes of investigated case at the Georgian Prosecutor General’s office and it reveals the military crimes committed in Abkhazia and genocide of Georgian population there. We cannot get rid of these facts. I do not think we must blame ourselves. I do not advise any other nation to undergo similar tragedy our nation has to endure. I do not want our enemies to feel the same. I do not think Georgian people have to apologize. Simply we have to forget everything, nothing can obstruct reconciliation.”

Kote Gabashvili, a leader of the national Movement, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee: “There are people who try to take advantage of every problem in order to make their activities more active. “I would have signed” the Sorry Appeal as a Georgian person for they have killed Vova Vekua; I would have apologized to them because they have cut of the heads of Georgian people and then played football with their heads on Gagra Stadium; because they pierced families together with their little children. I advise everybody to remember those pictures when apologizing to Abkhaz people. It would be better if both sides apologized to each other. We have equal faults and our society should not be masochist. This campaign is unreal and I cannot appreciate it.”

Elizbar Javelidze, representative of the political movement “Ena Mamuli Sartsmunoeba” (Mother language, Motherland, Faith): “Both sides have to apologize. Shevardnadze launched the war. It was a provocation. The results were obvious from the very beginning. Nobody can persuade me that Kitovani wanted to go to Abkhazia for a walk and Shevardnadze accompanied him. The latter could foresee the results. We should apologize to Abkhaz people for having started the war; but whereas their playing football with the heads of Georgian people and their present aggressive attitude to us, Abkhaz people must apologize to us. Actually, politician’s apologize does not mean anything. I support public diplomacy. People should reconcile.”

Jondi Bagaturia, “Kartuli Dasi” (Georgian Team): “I am furious when any organization takes responsibility to make statements in the name of Georgian people. Moreover, nobody must excuse to others. As for the fact whether we have to apologize to them, I think we have to return our break-away region and restore our territorial integrity. In this situation it has no sense to find out who provoked the conflict. It is obvious that situation was terrible and devastating. There was one group who provoked the hostility in the name of Abkhaz people. It resulted into the controversy in Sokhumi. It is not time to find out who should apologize.”

Gia Gachechiladze, “Georgian Greens”: “The point is that it is very naïve attempt to make some corrections in negotiation process. If any representative of the government agrees with the campaign it will have negative influence on the process. Georgia will lose not only in Abkhazian-Georgian relationship but on international level too. Everybody knows that the conflict was provoked by Russian Special Forces. Their aim was to change demographic situation in the region that is to empty the Abkhazian territory from Georgian and Abkhaz people. The military operations were too successful against Georgians. But Abkhaz people are deceived and cannot even understand that there is no place for them in Abkhazia. Consequently, it is only Russian Side who has to apologize for the situation.”

Bachuki Kardava, “National Democratic Party”: “I would not apologize to anybody, because only Russian and Abkhazian sides have to be sorry about the situation. They have broken Georgian territorial integrity and forced out more than 100 000 Georgian people from there. It is a serious crime committed against Georgian nation. I really do not know what the aim of this campaign is -to gain grants or to follow somebody’s orders; anyway we have neither moral nor historical basis to apologize. We cannot ignore those boys who were killed in Abkhazian war.”

Denis Matveev, Peace Building Consultant:  “I am very much attracted with the ‘Sorry campaign’. Asking for Sorry is the very brave step. I think you will find many supporters and other will join you soon as this is the only way for the peace reconciliation. You are brave and encourage you not to give up even if pressure comes upon you from anybody”.

Helga Tempel, board member of Forum ZFD: “What impressed me much with your campaign is that you do not say, that we also hope to hear the same soon… that you just dared to do first steps. I am sure many people will join you in this generous activitiy”.

Bjorn Kunter, director of the Social Safety Federation (BSV, Germany): “Reconciliation works through forgiveness. It is a precondition to sustainable peace. People who dare forgive and to ask for forgiveness, would always be treated as betrayers by their own people but I think on the other way round it’s the people who think it’s more important  to hate the others or wait for them to take first step are the betrayers of the both people. And if I am asking for forgiveness, it does not mean that I will be forgiven”.

Mery Sanaia, an IDP: “To tell the truth I did not expect anyone to be concerned about us. I thought everybody seems to forget everything and our pain remains only with us. I want to express my gratitude to the Human Rights Center for sharing our tragedy and started to think about reconciliation, how to return to Abkhazia which has already become a dream for us.”

Lela Tolordava, a journalist: “The goal always justifies the means of activities. The same situation is in this particular case. If our goal is to regain Abkhazia, any kind campaign (particularly “Sorry” Campaign) is justified. I think only generous people can apology. There is nothing shameful or degrading in this initiative. I appreciate the idea and I am ready to support the initiators of the “Sorry” Campaign.”

Temur Barbakadze, a financier: “Sorry” Campaign is perfect form of public campaign. Even we, those people who had no connection with Abkhazian war, should apology to Abkhaz mothers whose sons were killed in the war. At first sight, sorry is not a great relief for them but it is worth one-minute-consideration.”

Natela Dzidziguri, an IDP: “Two days ago I saw a performance staged by Giorgi Sikharulidze at the Kutaisi Drama Theatre. I thought it was continuation of the “Sorry” Campaign. The whole story of the performance was based on forgiveness and I enjoyed it. Thus, I think the necessity of the “Sorry” Campaign is beyond consideration. Of course I appreciate it.  Only in this way we will be able to return to the place from where we were kicked out for no particular reasons.”

Irakli Kiinadze, a student: “The initiative is really wonderful. My friends and I will join the campaign with pleasure. I am ready to apologize to both Abkhaz and Georgian mothers hundred times, whose sons were killed in the war. My friends will do the same.  It is high time to finish this endless obscurity.

Lado Giorgadze, a teacher: “To say “Sorry” is a good manner. There is no man on the earth whom you will apology to and he would not give in. Let us say “Sorry” and explain to those people that we are not indifferent to them. Believe me we should not do anything better.”
Maguli Mindadze, a retired woman: “I cannot help expressing my appreciation to the initiator of the idea. Believe me “Sorry” always succeeds and now it is in the nick of time.

Nino Narimanashvili, Journalist: In General, apologies is a noble gesture. Why not? - I will ask for forgiveness, though, this does not mean that only we are guilty in this conflict. Both sides have to apologies. Let’s make the first step. I hope we will move the ice. And after that, our relations will get warmer.

Magda Kldiashvili, Student: I think that only wards and apologies will not be able to solve the problem. We will not be able to return Abkhazia without war and weapon. The Georgians know about it. Yes, I agree, that only few people decided to begin the war, but, not a little amount of Georgians were rubbing the Abkhazians’ houses. The Abkhazians also made a lot of bad things in this war. Georgia has to improve economic level. Besides this, we have to remember historical facts: the Georgians had to fight for the returning of the lost territories with weapon. It is necessary to have good politics, strong economy and strong army. Only with apologizes we won’t be able to return Abkhazia.

Marina Sudadze, The chief of the Akhaltsikhe Youth Organization Union: I have read the appeal to Abkhaz people, and of course, I agree and think that for both people this is a very painful question. I also agree that we were able to avoid the war and we have to ask for forgiveness to those Abkhazians, who suffered during the war. I am sure, that the conflict must be solved by peaceful way. We have to renew relations through the way of forgiveness, because such relations are stronger.
Vasil Beridze, the Chief of Akhaltsikhe Municipality: If it is necessary to ask for forgiveness, we must do it. We have to make everything to return Abkhazia as soon as possible. This is a pain and wish of common man. If we express positive attitude to those people who live in Abkhazia, this would be great.

Papuna Khachidze, the Presidential representative in Samtskhe-Javakheti: Both, The Goergians and Abkhazians have to understand that we are the children of one country. And there is no difference among us. We have to manage to ask for forgiveness. The Abkhazians also have to apologies, but the main thing is to love each other and to begin the restoration of the relations with such a noble form.