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

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Why I Apologize To Abkhaz People (Part II)
What Does It Mean “We Will Gain Abkhazia Back?” Shall We Gain Territory or People Back?

And what does the well-known slogan –“We will gain Abkhazia back” mean? Shall we gain Abkhazian land or Abkhaz people and relationship with them back? Is it worth to return to the land of blood and death? What does Georgian society need - Revenge or normal coexistence with Abkhaz people?

Unfortunately, the war in august of 2008 in Tskhinvali was not the war between political elites only. Most part of society and politicians supported it. Nobody supported anti-war statements even in civil society. It is pity that in July of 2008 that big part of Georgian NGOs avoided signing the anti-war statement.

And it is time to ask once more: What do we want in Abkhazia – war or peace? If we need war it is clear who we will be after the war. And if we need peace, we should think about each other and about future.

“There is no other way towards peace. The peace is the way itself.”


Is not it better to really apologize and forgive past mistakes and sins to each other?  Is not it better to be more concerned about each other’s pains, to understand each other and say once and for ever that we, Georgians will never allow war with Abkhaz people. Besides that, we, IDPs from Abkhazia will say that we will never ask our government to use military force to send us back home in Abkhazia; we will say that we have made mistake when we could not prevent the war years ago and could not protect Georgian and Abkhaz peoples.

We know what defeat and betrayal means and if we want good for Abkhaz people we should never wish them to be defeated. We, Georgian and Abkhaz peoples will definitely win and victory of only one side shall not be the defeat of another.

Why is it so difficult to bring these two peoples close to each other and to find common interests? Is it really so difficult to find common language? How have we lived together for so many centuries? Some people cannot see it and do not want to admit centuries-long coexistence.

War in Georgian Mentality

War initially starts in mind and mentality and then it starts in reality. The war launched between us years ago still continues. The war shall finish some day and it first of all shall end in our mind. The war is already defeat.

Very often the most complicated problem can be resolved by the easiest method – through realizing smallest truth. A person shall always get what s/he has done before; aggression breeds aggression, hatred breeds aggression, violence breeds violence. How much negative information, impulse and ideas were spread about Abkhazia and Abkhaz people recently? And vice versa… this negative feeling is mounting and impacts our daily relationship. If you send positive message, you will receive the same one back. We will gain love instead our love. Instead aggression and hatred we will receive the same. It is truth taught by the Bible and our society cannot understand it. Do we really want to change this dynamic? Do we want to send positive messages to Abkhaz people?

We see the straw in the eyes of others and we do not see the beam in ours.

In the appeal of “Sorry” Campaign we suggested people to pray for each other. Many people laughed at it. Love and praying can change much and it is not dream that Georgian and Abkhaz peoples can respect each other. It is the only way to escape this situation because we all want it; however, because of pride and chauvinism in ourselves we do not want to notice it.

Georgian Chauvinism

How Georgian society and entire Georgian state will manage to decline Georgian chauvinism, making our history more beautiful and confess our own mistakes - the future of our society and state depends on it.

Of course, Abkhaz people shall answer many questions too. Neither Moscow, nor Brussels, nor Washington can settle the problems that are within competence of only two nations. Do we need it? How long shall we continue like that? We, Georgians, shall either decline our chauvinism or part with Abkhazia forever. Euphoria of recognizing the independence will fade away soon and we shall return back to reality. Huge Russian military machine works against Abkhaz people first of all. In ten years it will become more vivid. However, people in Abkhazia think that their number first threat is Saakashvili’s government and Russia does not have alternative now.

Abkhazian Abkhazia

Georgian society shall do its best to promote the development of Abkhazian language and turn it into state language in Abkhazia. As soon as Abkhazia is Abkhazian, it will be free from Russia.

Georgian-Abkhazian Vision Does not Exist

It is fact, that there are not unsettled conflicts and there are always ways out of the complicated situation and alternative. The question is how well does Georgian society realize it? Do we see it as a long-way perspective and pragmatically? Today, our society relies on emotions and cannot see the way to resolve the conflict peacefully. The society does not have clear understanding of war reasons and results; they see everything through narrow and unilateral position and cannot confess its mistakes and problems. Today, people are looking for the answers except in themselves. We see guilty in everybody but not in ourselves: government blames Russia and opposition, opposition blames the government, people blame everybody: Russia, USA, Europe, Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples.

First of all, the problem is in us. Of course others also helped us in it and very strongly; however, initially we are the problem. We do not call proper name to the problem. It is time to call Georgian chauvinism its name - Georgian chauvinism.

It is fact, that large-scaled conception has not been created for many years where opinions of various lawyers of the society can be expressed. It is difficult for us to realize our tribute to the conflict and war. And we are ready to blame others. During recent years, only aggression, violence, war propaganda, attempt of threat and degrade was sent to Abkhaz people - and we receive the same.

Many people inquired us cynically – what did you gain from apologizing Abkhaz people? Nothing! They laughed at you and expressed aggression like Georgian people did.

The aim of the Sorry Campaign was not appeal to Abkhaz people to do the same. It was initiated for Georgian people in order to compel them to confess our mistakes and learn on these mistakes; we wanted to say that we have more responsibility for what is happening in our country. And it makes no sense whether somebody will apologize in reply now or ever. It is individual act – the point is that we have done our duty and will not keep those words in our heart and can be free from the burden resulted from the war.

Second opinion, which was often expressed, is that “those, who has not participated in the war, apologize. Maybe it is true. We want to underscore that during the war we did our best to prevent boys to go to the war in Abkhazia and change their mind on their way to the airport. We spent several days in detention setting for that and for our resistance to political events of the 1990s. And unfortunately, even then we were in minority.

Two years ago, sorry was tabooed. Speaking about this topic was neither popular nor safe. The campaign succeeded because many people speak about it now. And everybody thinks about it. In fact, it was provocation in positive. This provocation did its job. Sorry exposed many things; it showed whether Georgian society really has peaceful attitude towards Abkhaz people and how big is military spirit in the country; how far are the government and society from the peace.

Different Georgia

Radical steps are always painful for the society. Often we can be declared traitors but the society gets chance of reconciliation through these sincere, open and peaceful initiatives. Everybody looks back into the past; even those who resisted Sorry Campaign and even its idea. Sorry is not a panacea. It was message to Abkhaz people to remind that there is different Georgia too. There are other people in this country who want different Georgia- with different goals and mentality.

Today, everybody speaks about conflict resolution but unfortunately, people have forgotten simple reality – nothing can be done without love and forgiveness. Today, none of those who opposed this idea can say any arguments against the campaign. They have just shortcomings and pride because they think they have nothing to apologize to anybody. They think apologizing is weakness and cowardness. Useless debates are still organized and they argue who was first settler in Abkhazia – Georgian or Abkhaz person; how they dared it, etc. but nobody can say why it all happened.

Recently they say that it was only Russian-Georgian war but if Russia is not tomorrow, shall we be able to coexist together with Abkhaz people? Maybe we are really guilty in something. How true is our history, theories of historian Marika Lortkipanidze and other scientists about settlement of Abkhaz people in the 16th century and whether “real Abkhaz people” are Georgians and Apsua are different nation who have done so much wrong. Let us say that all this is true, what then? Shall we resettle Abkhaz people back to north Caucasus? Our society is so keen on this idea that they cannot adequately realize everything and have proper reaction. Our people were told various stories; 90 % of them were made to elect president and the same number of people elected the second one and then the third. And afterwards we always say that we had made mistakes in electing the previous president. The point is that it is very well governed from outside - either by visible or invisible powers and absolute majority cannot understand it. And every president promises us to reintegrate Georgia. However, everybody has similar goals and policy in regard with Abkhazia. All three presidents of Georgia so far have conducted similar policy. They forgot and neglected Abkhaz people during their governance. And this policy still continues.

During the campaign we have received many calls, threats and dirty slander. Nobody inquired why we launched this campaign. Several people called us traitors and spies. Others blamed we were governed by a political party; others, for example, president Saakashvili in his statement in November of 2007 stated: "why should we apologize to them? Shall we apologize to them because they cut our heads off and evicted us from there? Shall we apologize because they destroyed Georgian churches; for our children who got frozen on the mountainous pass and thrown out from the plane? Shall we still apologize for that? Who are those people and which international organization funded them to write such nonsense?”

Most part of Georgian media still blocks not only the campaign but the word “Sorry”. Only several small-edition newspapers, radio and online sources spread information about it. The government and most part of the opposition use this word as an insulting one. One thing is clear- the campaign made Georgian society naked with its negative and positive sides; beyond their ostentatious democracy and tolerance chauvinism is very strong in our society.

What Is The Philosophy Beyond “Sorry” Campaign?

After physical violence and war end conflicts still continue in the hearts of people. Hatred and anger control human lives for a long time. These emotions paralyze people and make them hostages of hatred. When a person is occupied with anger and hatred, s/he cannot clearly evaluate situation and look forward in future. “Sorry” Campaign might be the first step to break negative circle. It creates awarenes which promotes establishment of inter-respect of the peoples. The Campaign aims to prevent emotions and hatred to govern people. It is the way to look forwards, leave everything evil in the past and think of the future. It is not accusation to any of the parties of the conflict. It is first step to make people accept and forgive each other. Exposing human sides of the opposite side can make people overcome obstacles.

There is no future without forgiveness. The Campaign learns lessons our past mistakes. It is assuming of our responsibilities in the conflict. It was the conflict where both nations lost much. Having realized it people might come together. This step is always taken by one side and it will definitely have a follow-up; it shall become kind of catalyst for social changes. Sorry – this is the way towards each other’s hearts.

Breaking the Chain of Hatred

What have we gained and what do we plan?

Many people asked us – you have launched ‘Sorry” campaign for more than 2 years and what is the result of it? The situation is more complicated. It is clear that similar campaign can have output only in 5, 10 and 20 years. The point is to stop negative attitude what exists now between two nations. The point is to break the chain of hatred between the two nations. Negative attitudes shall eventually turn into positive one.

We try to persuade people around us that Abkhaz and Georgian peoples shall respect each other. The campaign is funded from only personal donations because there is nobody to fund it. Several donor organization and embassies were interested in funding this idea but as soon as they learned government’s position, they refused to fund the campaign.

The society shall do what leading politicians failed to do. Common sense shall appear among society and we should realize that everybody can do something and we focus on the responsibility of each person, on public responsibility. Finally, this campaign has not said anything new. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ came and showed us that future will not exist without regretting, confession. The god is ready to show an example of love and generosity and the god has allowed all this tragedy happen because of our sins and mistakes in order to make us think of our behavior – how correct we are when we think that we have not sinned, when we think that only the other is guilty and we do not confess anything.

Let us see everything in another way. Emotions fade away; pain also fades away and life continues. Despite our wishes neither Abkhaz nor Georgians will ever go elsewhere. We have to live here. Earlier or later we will have to value our past and write true history. We will have to put Georgian and Abkhaz myths aside.

We will leave the deadlock where we have been stuck for a long time. We will respect Abkhaz people properly and will take advantage of Samegrelo region and its residents in this dialogue.

Simultaneously, we should collect and check information about war victims. They shall receive compensations. Those people, who are guilty in military and war crimes, shall be punished in accordance to the law on both sides. Impunity shall not reign in the region in future.

Trust shall be built between the two nations. They shall have daily relationship. We should create common field – informational, economical and other. We cannot resolve political issues but we can do something to end this abnormal relationship. Our opinion is clear in this issue. These relations shall rely on the truth, sincerity, love, forgiveness and those characters which were valued during many centuries in the Caucasus. It shall be done by people. It will be time when we have government who will agree even on political issues. The only guarantee for the safety of Abkhaz people can be EU. Neither official Moscow nor official Tbilisi will do anything positive in this direction; just the opposite!

Who is fighting for it today in fact? Very few people do. Politicians, militants, media, civil society, church, international organizations do not have real plan for the conflict resolution. Do we use all our resources to stop military actions, militarization and war propaganda? Or just the opposite, like in August of 2008 we all keep in silence and wait for the statement of the commander-in-chief to free Tskhinvali region from criminals? We all keep silence – politicians and others. And when we could not hear similar statement, we started to criticize the government – “if we were there, we could have won.” Have we thought a little, what do we encourage by keeping silence?

Silence or Peace?

We value peace and we chose only the peace. War, appeal for the war, war propaganda, rattle of weapon and military rhetoric are unacceptable for us because war can seem fair and generous only superficially even if it is dedicated to restore territorial integrity recognized by the UN.

Georgian and Abkhazian people demand only peace and open dialogue between the sides.

Georgian and Abkhaz people have nowhere to go. Our children will continue living here after hundred years and they will maintain their language, culture, dignity and history.

Our peoples have a future and let’s not destroy it!

29 Jul. '10