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The Georgian-Abkhaz Peace Process PhD Candidate, Caspian Region Environment and Energy Studies (CREES) Program Freie Universität Berlin Ulrike Graalfs.

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Presentation on theme: "The Georgian-Abkhaz Peace Process PhD Candidate, Caspian Region Environment and Energy Studies (CREES) Program Freie Universität Berlin Ulrike Graalfs."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Georgian-Abkhaz Peace Process PhD Candidate, Caspian Region Environment and Energy Studies (CREES) Program Freie Universität Berlin Ulrike Graalfs

2 Second Track Diplomacy and the Georgian Abkhaz Peace Process - A way out of the Dilemma?

3 2 Levels of Conflict Transformation Track I Diplomacy State-Centric Official/ Formal meetings State Diplomacy – Bilateral & Multilateral Track II Diplomacy Non-state & State representatives in private capacity Informal meetings Experts/ Civil Society Experts

4 Problem The official (First Track) negotiation formats to solve the Conflict have not yielded results Pre-2008 War: Geneva Process Post-2008 War: Geneva Talks No Tangible Results! No Peace Agreement - Status Quo: Cease Fire

5 Hypothesis For International Negotiation Efforts to become meaningful, the Georgian-Abkhaz Dialogue has to be revived on a state level

6 Not a Panacea, but a necessary first step to unlock the current Dead-lock

7 Terminology: Second Track Second Track Diplomacy is not simply to be equated with civil society initiatives or the plethora of NGOs working in one or another capacity around the conflict. They hold the potential and networks for having an upward (top level/ officials) and downward (grassroots/ society) impact, and thus represent an immense potential for peace building. Middle level of experts, those deemed by many scholars as especially important for conflict transformation Rather: Actors (individuals and institutions) who have a long- standing experience working on the informal negotiation and confidence building process and who have and continue to function as intermediaries and bridges between the Abkhaz and Georgian societies See eg: John Paul Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, 1997, Washington, Institute of Peace Press

8 Visiting the Past of Georgian Second Track Diplomacy Promising beginnings - Early involvement - Establishment of meaningful dialog on a people-to-people level - Attempts at confidence building, joint analysis and establishing neutral forums for dialogue

9 ...Georgian Second Track Diplomacy Successful Lobbying - Recognition as Early-warning mechanism - Structure of Second Track Negotiations facilitated Networking with government - Post-2001 (Kodori) events, offer by Eduard Shevardnadze to draft their vision for a solution to the conflict

10 ...Georgian Second Track Diplomacy - Second Track and its official supporters stayed too silent, trying to shape policy at the top instead of going public. - Success was intrinsically tied to the benevolence of individuals in politics. Main criticisms:

11 ...Georgian Second Track Diplomacy After the Rose Revolution (2003), the Second Track again found a supporter in the person of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania. For the short time of his Premiership, Zhvania and his team – and later Irakli Alasania - made stunning advances with regard to shaping the Georgian-Abkhaz Dialog The longstanding work of the Second Track finally seemed to come to fruition

12 ...Georgian Second Track Diplomacy After Zhvanias death, a misbalance grew between the so-called party of peace and the party of war within the Georgian government Second Track initiatives became more restricted: Key officials and government experts were kept from participating in dialog even in their private capacity Simultaneously those considered doves were more or less subtly removed from their official posts and replaced by a less frugal political elite by the late summer of 2006

13 ...Georgian Second Track Diplomacy Second Track was strangled Channels of Communication ran dry In August 2008 Georgia and Russia fought a war with each other – Abkhazia participated

14 Post-August War Georgian government yielded to strong international expectations and involved those who had been working on the process for up to 20 years in drafting State Strategy on Occupied Territories: Engagement through Cooperation BUT… Final Draft lacked independent experts ideas Expert representatives of the Second Track unsatisfied All kippers and curtains but short-term public relation success for the Georgian government

15 Current Situation: Irreconcilable Differences? Second Track Representative - Recite missed opportunities - Deep suspicion of official policy - Almost unanimous opinion that the only new starting point for any progress must be a complete and thorough revision of the State Strategy

16 ...Irreconcilable Differences? Government Representatives - Polarized Political environment - Internationally committed to the Strategy - Political risks, expectations by international partners - Refusal to acknowledge any room for improvement - Unwilling to portray anyone but Russia as guilty

17 Cutting to the Chase Expectations created by the Strategy and its Action Plan cannot be fulfilled in practice, especially given the restrictive Modalities for conducting activities When asked how various aspects like economic exchanges, people-to people contacts and trust building measures are to be implemented, one is likely to be given the explanation that it is the Abkhaz who refuse any engagement

18 A Georgian Tragedy: It takes two to Tango Expertise exists locally to revise existing official documents, the most likely of which would be not the Strategy but its Action Plan and the heavily criticized Modalities. Homegrown know-how Constructive exchange over how to do it between those who have the expertise and those officials who in theory should have an interest to find out.

19 Findings Best practices from the past Points of failure Times of Creativity Communication channels to find out about the concerns of the Abkhaz side to be taken into account

20 Findings 1) The way government representatives and Second Track talk with each other has to be revamped 2) Georgias International Partners have to lend and ear to the Second Track and make sure that bottom-up initiatives reach the top 3) The current impasse caused by the rigidity of the official Action Plan Modalities must be surmounted by more flexible mechanisms

21 Outlook The transition from theory into practices faces immense obstacles. To convince experts from civil society and opposition alike to reboot and start a dialogue with pro-government decision makers and vice versa, requires powerful incentives and a willingness to abandon trenches dug and fortified over the course of many years.

22 International Contributions How Georgias international partners, can contribute - Reassurance - Democratic obligation

23 Only the Beginning Only a first step to revive the Georgian- Abkhaz Dialog Other steps include - Fostering a similar processes in Abkhazia - Georgian-Russian Dialog

24 A Long and Winding Road... to be continued

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