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Friday 09 June

Главная News Participation in the Civil Forum of the OSCE in Helsinki, 2nd-3rd December 2008
Participation in the Civil Forum of the OSCE in Helsinki, 2nd-3rd December 2008

Speech of Ashot Ayrapetyan, Director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, on the Civil Forum of the OSCE in Helsinki

The Center for Interethnic Cooperation which I represent started in November 2007 upon the financial support of the Britain fond Conflict Prevention Pool the project “Cooperation for the prevention of ethnic conflicts in Northern Caucasus”. The project was jointly implemented with the Caucasus Department of the Institute of Ethnology of the Russian Academy of Science.

The tasks of the project are:

  • Analysis of the situation in the Republics of Northern Caucasus

  • Identification of the factors that threaten the stability of the region

  • Search for indicators to determine the level of conflict

  • Clarification of the role of the civil society in this region

We held three seminars: in Karachay-Cherkessia, 9-10 April 2008, in the city of Anapa, Krasnodar Territory on 1-2 July 2008, and in Pyatigorsk, Stavropol Region, 15-17 September 2008. Already in June it became clear that the situation in South Ossetia is aggravating. Thus, our project ceased to have purely theoretical significance.

What has to be done to stop the continuation of the conflicts? What can representatives of the civil society do for it? These are the questions that stand before us. For the participation in the seminar in Anapa invitations were sent to public organisations in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Representatives of the United Nations were also invited to the seminar. In late February at the UN headquarters in Geneva, the Director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation has agreed with the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on cooperation and, in particular, to participate in the activities of the project. We also invited representatives of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the Delegation of the European Commission in Russia with which we cooperate not for the first year. Unfortunately, none of them came to the seminar. As a result, from international organisations only employees of the embassies of Great Britain, Germany and the United States participated in the seminar.

From Russia, the seminar was attended by representatives of the authorities and the scientific sphere from all Republics of Northern Caucasus and Krasnodar and Stavropol territories. It is interesting that the Deputy Prime Minister on Affairs of Nationalities of Northern Ossetia drew the attention of the participants on the concentration of Georgian troops on the border with South Ossetia and warned about the possibility of military actions by the authorities of Georgia.

At the conference of the OSCE in Romania the Director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation mentioned that the absence of international normative regulations defining in which cases the principle of invariability of borders does not have priority over the right of nations to self-determination encourages the States’ attempts to solve problems in this sphere by force. Unfortunately, Georgia is no exception. The armed conflict in South Ossetia became a visual demonstration of the fragility of peace in the Caucasus. Thousands of people died, hundreds of thousand lost their homes.

Alas, the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the OSCE not only failed to prevent the conflict, but they themselves became an arena of fierce diplomatic battles. Moreover, for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union the threat of the Cold War between Russia and the Western countries once again emerged.

The Center for Interethnic Cooperation appealed to all its partners, non-governmental organisations from the US, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, to do everything to prevent that the conflict in South Ossetia did not become a pretext for a new Cold War.

It is no secret that Georgia strives to join the European Union. Voluntarily. This is advantageous and prestigious. Only 60 years ago the countries of the European Union led war to the death with each other. But now, the nations of these countries have understood that not borders determine the success of a State, but respect of the law and the freedom of the people living there. Georgia played a great role in the history of the Caucasus. We very much want that the Government of Georgia establishes that high level of living and prosperity of all nations on its territory so that the nations find themselves profitable and prestigious in their composition. Thank you for your attention.


Ashot Ayrapetyan