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Georgia recognizes Circassian genocide

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, May 21
On May 20, the Georgian Parliament recognized that Russia had committed “genocide” against the Circassians in the northwest Caucasus in the 19th century. Voting unanimously for the “historical document” the MP confirmed that “pre-planned” mass killings of the Circassians accompanied by “deliberate famine and epidemics” should be recognized as “genocide” and those deported during those events from their homeland, should be recognized as “refugees.”

Georgia had been discussing the issue for more than a year. Introduction of the draft resolution with “great political and international importance” was preceded by scientific research confirming the truth of the genocide. Considering the various international conventions proving their decision, Georgian MPs discouraged physical and psychological destruction of the peaceful Circassians and further banishment from their homeland.

MPs from the ruling United National Movement (UNM) hoped it would be a message to the civilized world to stop crime together. “Today’s event has encouraged me to say that I’m Georgian, thus I’m Circassian,” Rusudan Kervalishvili stated. Talking of the great responsibility of Georgians towards their brotherly people Pavle Kublashvili called it “an inevitable step for restoring the historical justice which should become the subject of pride for the future generations”.

Talking of Georgia as the leader of the Caucasus, Nugzar Tsiklauri Chairman of Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee emphasized that the document would become the basis for improving stability and security within the region. “Georgia had always been the political and intellectual centre of the Caucasus region and we will manage to restore the leader’s role,” Tsiklauri said encouraging the Georgian people to put an end to the Circassians torture which used to destroy their national unity.

“Unfortunately Circassians aren’t the only people affected by Russia. That’s why we would discuss the issues of all the Caucasian nations,” Givi Targamadze Chairman of Defense and Security Committee stated. Talking of the 150 year old genocide as Russia’s attempt to misappropriate Circassian lands, the ruling party MPs accused Russia of ethnic cleansing.

Hoping that the predecessors of those oppressed Circassians would return to their historical homeland, Guram Chakhvadze from the National Democratic Movement welcomed “Georgia’s respectful merit” to this issue. Worrying how Russia erased the historical and cultural footprints from Circassians’ territories oppositional MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze discouraged those who wouldn’t have acknowledged the case as genocide. “Today’s decision has highlighted that Georgia can express sovereign will,” he stated.

Russian MP Konstantin Kosachev Chairman of the International Affairs Committee in the State Duma said that Georgia aimed at “antagonizing Russia” by recognizing the 19th century mass killings of Circassians as genocide regretting that “the politicians in Georgia failed to withstand a temptation to materialize their own nationalistic complexes at the expense of other peoples,” he told the Russian news agency Interfax on May 20. “Georgian MPs do not at all care about the “really tragic fate of the Circassian people." They only aimed at making their political goals by portraying Russia as a trouble-maker for the Caucasus people,” he stated.

Finding it difficult to specify the reasons for confirming the Circassians genocide Georgian analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze supposed that the Georgian Government might have wanted to remind the society about the Russian factor especially during the protest rallies in Georgia. Russian analysts Nikolai Silaev and Aleksander Golts fully disapproved declaration of Circassians genocide by Georgian Parliament. Predicting that the relations between Georgia-Russia would finally worsen the two experts said this step would become enough reason for failing any attempts for consolation. “Georgian Parliament seems to lack the reasonable mind as it is unacceptable to discuss the two-century old issue in the frames of the modern moral criteria,” Golts said disapproving the “worthless policy”.