“Centre for Cultural Relations – Caucasian House” has been working for decades on issues of peace building and regional cooperation in the Caucasus. The Founders of the organization initially aimed to make conflicts prevention in the problematic geo (political) Region of Caucasus. Unfortunately, due to certain reasons, violent forms of conflicts could not be eluded. Consequently, our organization in cooperation with other peace-building organizations has to work for betterment of the humanitarian and political situation after severe wars. The latest tragedy in the region was Georgia-Russian war, which finalized by the occupation of Georgian territories and recognition of occupied territories as independent states by Russia Federation.
Despite of existing tension after “War of August”, “Caucasian House” initiated the process of civil dialogue between the Georgian and Russian youth. Different professionals participate in the dialogue: specialists of international relations, politics, journalists, lawyers and etc. The main purpose of the process is to create communication channel between Georgian and Russian future decision makers and public opinion makers. “Caucasian House” is making assumption that new generation is coming in both countries and these generations will not be considering moments of “Big or young brother” and respect each other’s sovereign choice.
Obviously, facilitation of such process is not easy especially having so called “red lines” as a background. The last serious challenge, which can have negative impact on dialogue process, is the current situation at the “occupation line”. As it is known, Russian Border Guards demarcate “occupation line”. (Please, see the article “Caucasian House” employee – Mr. Giorgi Shaishmelashvili)
Installation of barbed -wire fences causes further difficulties for humanitarian aid in the occupied and nearby territories. Russian participants of the dialogue were brought to the conflict zone in order to familiar with the problems of the victims. “Caucasian House” finds this activity to be productive for introduction real picture of the problem to Russian and rest of the world. (Please, see the discussion of the participants on TV program Studio RE and published articles).
Day after day, skepticism about perspective of Georgia-Russian dialogue grows in society as a consequence of illegal borderization and installation of barbed -wire fence.
In particular, a significant percentage of Georgian population believes that Georgia should not participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
“Caucasian House” shares the legitimate concern of the people against illegal acts of the Russian Federation. Furthermore, as we have outlined above, “Caucasian house” is fully involved to publish and spread information about occupation and illegal demarcation throughout the world. We also make attempt to find constructive people in the Russian Federation who acknowledge human rights including restricted movement and consider that barbed -wire fences is anachronism in the modern world and it does not have any perspective in the future.
After all above mentioned, we would like to present our position about Sochi Olympics. We consider that it is important to make rational decision and not emotional. Consent to participate in the Sochi Olympics is the part of normalization process between Georgia and Russia. Generally, any individual has the right to question the appropriateness of the process, but it is unclear to take one part of the whole process separately and boycott it.
Government of Georgia managed to start dialogue with the Russian federation without crossing “red lines”. As it is known, both sides agreed about existence of “red lines”. On the one hand, this is – the territorial integrity, sovereignty and choice of foreign political orientation, on the other hand, it is a “new reality” for Russia – five independent countries in the South Caucasus. Nevertheless, the two sides began to cooperate in trade – economic, transport and cultural / sports / education fields. Logically, there is a theoretical possibility that the Sochi Olympics will be in the “red lines” section. This will happen if Olympics have negative influence on territorial integrity of Georgia and lead to recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The threat does not seem to be real at this stage. Subsequently, boycotting the Olympics is as illogical as for instance banning to export Georgian products to Russian market. (Unfortunately, in the recent history of Georgia we had irrational behaviors like this.) Illegal process of demarcation at the occupation zone is not enough condition for boycott. It seems that part of the Georgian population learned about occupation after installation of barbed -wire fences.
In fact, illegal process of demarcation since April-May 2011 is the only one part of the occupation which is result of the Georgia-Russian War (2008 year). Though, many Georgian sport teams and clubs participated in sport competition in the Russian Federation during the timeline of occupation. Some supporters to boycott are willing to boycott Olympics, as they do not believe in success of Georgian athletes in winter games. This opinion obviously lacks of serious and objective arguments.
And the same supporters to boycott do not see any problem in participation if chances for winning were higher. As for the moral argument, according to which Georgia still has a chance to “maintain its image” notwithstanding the defeat in the war, it is also very unconvincing. This argument is based on a very particular view of honour, which excludes understanding of honour in terms of one’s individual internal state.
Olympics is an international sporting event, the rest of the “content” is the result of our own projections. „Leaving the [Communist] party now means to give political significance to the things and events, which have never been [political],” – replied Merab Mamardashvili to Anne Chevalier.
The only real arguement of supporters to boycott is the resonance of the event. Though, supporters of this argument should acknowledge that position of the Government of Georgia to start the process of dialogue, including participation in Sochi Olympics is correct. International society – the main target of “resonance” will be more sensitive and have acute reaction to the situation, if Georgia makes everything for dialogue and betterment of the situation, rather than without trial of all possible routes.
Participation in Sochi Olympics will demonstrate consistency in actions for international partners and Russians as well. In this way we can avoid any kind of blames from Russian, that Georgia is involved in provocations and incidents in the North Caucasus during the Olympics. At the same time, we will follow instruction of our western partners to be constructive and patient with Russian. All these trials can lead our country to safe and peaceful development, which might be foundation of the de-occupation process.