Unresolved conflicts since declaring independence remains one of the most important challenges for Georgia. From the beginning of the 1990s up to the present day, the consequences of the escalation of intense military confrontations and periods of relatively less tension in the direction of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both in terms of political, social, economic, interpersonal relations, acquire a nature of the deep crisis instead of easing, which further complicates opportunities to resolve the conflict in the near future.
Our many years of work on conflict resolution, reconciliation, and peace-building have made it clear that without understanding the past and committed mistakes as well as missed opportunities, it is impossible to plan future actions aimed at transformation and normalization efforts and to break the deadlock. Unfortunately, time does not work in our favor. The war in Ukraine and the new geopolitical challenges have further aggravated the situation and shown us the necessity to start actions in a timely, urgent manner.
During the conference dedicated to the importance of conceptualizing the past and the formulation of concrete actions on June 14-15, 2020, several important recommendations were identified to initiate the effective process of dealing with the past (DwP). The recommendations are based on the assumption that DwP is the cornerstone of the process of reconciliation and civil consent. At the same time, conceptualizing the past is a political process that is driven by the activism of civil society, based on the need for painful recognition of the importance of this process and tragic events.
Reconsideration of the past and building opportunities for future relations formed the basis of reconciliation and civil consent processes in post-World War II Europe, which in turn became the basis for the unity of modern Europe. Therefore, for Georgia, which is on the path to full membership of the European family, the activation of similar approaches should become the basis for the transformation and normalization of its conflicts.
The process of conceptualizing the past should be based on:
• The principles of equality of all parties engaged in the conflict and the universality of human rights, the recognition of the violations of these rights and their investigation regardless of the ethnic and political affiliation of the violators and abused individuals;
• Recognition of the injuries suffered by all parties engaged in the conflict while avoiding the monopolization of the right of injury;
• Recognition of the different interpretations of the past by the parties and ensuring their compatibility by analyzing the reasons for these differences;
• Objective investigation of the tragic events of the past and based on it a legal and political assessment; Also, based on this assessment, expression of sympathy and compassion for the victims of the tragedies at the community and state levels;
• Shift the conceptualization of the past, the process of working on it from the field of debate to the wider field of public discussion, and the strengthening of academic research given the endemic nature of the processes;
• Providing access to archival materials, including materials closed for some time for objective or subjective reasons, individual memories for the study and conceptualization of the past, as well as for educational purposes;
• Taking civil and political responsibilities in this difficult and painful process and recognizing the asymmetry of the ongoing processes on different sides.
Based on these principles, in order to activate the process of conceptualizing the past, we consider it necessary:
• Promoting transitional justice by establishing a community commission to study the relevant processes, as well as by activating state institutions to restore the legal status of victims;
• Activating processes with symbolic meaning, as a manifestation of acts of sharing common and individual tragedies and of co-participation of sharing and empathy on the part of the state;
• Restoring-digitizing of archives before and after the conflict and documenting individual memories to bring them out to the public discussion as much as possible and to activate academic and analytical research directions;
• Activating dialogue between parties of the conflict, including existing Track 2 and Track 1.5 formats and developing new formats - translating human rights from the politicization of past work issues to the legal and transformation agenda;
• Activating the involvement of educational and academic institutions both in terms of conceptualizing and analyzing the past, as well as in terms of developing conflict-sensitive learning and updating school and university curricula;
• In relation to conflicts implementation of approaches of Dealing with the Past (DwP) in the Georgian state strategy review process and the needs in both the reconciliation and legal areas.
We call on the Georgian state institutions, international organizations, associations, organizations, and groups working on conflict resolution, reconciliation and peace-building to be actively involved in one of the most crucial and effective tools of reconciliation - the study and critical understanding of the past.
- Human Rights Center (HRC),
- Institute for the Study of Nationalism and Conflicts (ISNC),
- Democracy Research Institute (DRI),
- Social Justice Center,
- International Center for Geopolitical Studies (ICGS),
- Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA),
- Center for Peace and Civic Development (CPCD),
- Women’s Information Center,
- Coalition for the Rights of IDPs,
- Georgian Ossetian Association "Irony",
- Youth Alternative,
- Studio Re,
- Association Consent
- Women Foundation "Sokhumi",
- Charity Humanitarian Center Abkhazia,
- Georgian Kurdish Association "Ronai",
- Center for Harmonic Development of Cultural Diversity,
- Institute of Georgian-Abkhazian Relations,
- Caucasian Mosaic.
- Gori Youth Center.
- Paata Zakareishvili, conflict scientist, former State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia,
- Marina Paghava, Caucasian Dialogue
- Ivane Abramishvili, Head of the Peace Program at the Caucasian House
- Giorgi Kanashvili, conflict scientist
- Marina Elbakidze, participant of the Georgian-Abkhazian Peace Dialogue,
- Zurab Bragvadze, historian,
- Mikheil Jakhua, lawyer
- Arina Tavakarashvili, lecturer at the Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University
- Shota Shvelidze, conflict scientist
- Keti Murusidze, Independent Researcher of Peace and Conflicts
- Giorgi Eliauri, journalist