||International summer Academy started its work (1)
On 24-28 July 2007 the Summer Academy was organized in Dubingiai. During the event the most important “frozen” conflicts of the post-soviet space were discussed, i.e. the conflicts between Moldova and Trans-Dniester region and between Georgia, Abkhazia and Sothern Ossetia. Four days professional political analysts, politicians, diplomats, representatives of public and civil organizations and youth from the Baltic States, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Trans-Dniester Region, Georgia, Abkhazia and Sothern Ossetia discussed the reasons of regional and ethnical conflicts, their extent, dynamics, possible ways for solving problems and consequences.
A special attention was given to the role of third countries – Russia, EU and its separate members, NATO, the United States etc, as well as to the experience gained while solving „frozen“ conflicts.
On 25 July participants of the Summer Academy discussed geopolitical issues and interests in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. According to the Russian journal „The New Time“ and the author of website geopolitika.lt, it is necessary, while discussing the situation in Trans-Dniester, Abkhazia and Sothern Ossetia, to focus on Kosovo; its recognition could become a classical precedent for the non-recognized countries. The speaker highlighted, however, that Russia says „no“ to Kosovo and at the same time precludes consideration of current conflicts in the post-soviet space according to the Kosovo scenario.
Referring to Jonas Čekuolis, a member of the Lithuanian Seimas, Lithuania is interested not to have in its neighborhood (the current Europe has extended its concept outside the ordinary geography) indistinct, unstable and unreliable countries. Therefore Lithuania does not hide its interests in Belarus, Ukraine or Moldova. „We invite Russia also to participate in this region, however not under conditions of Russia, but according to conditions of the above countries“.
Nikolay Mezhevich, director of the Neighborhood Cooperation Center of St.Petersburg State University said that national, and especially economic separatism moods can be easily felt also in stable and successful European countries (Northern and Sothern Italy, Flandreau and Valonia in Belgium, Spain, Ireland etc.), where separate regions, nations and sub-nations are fighting with each other. However, conflict and problem solving ways differ significantly, since in Western countries democratic instruments are applied and peaceful road is followed, whereas in the post-soviet space decentralization is apt to force application.
Will Moldova and Trans-Dniester region reach the agreement and what could be the cost of this agreement for both states? Cornel Ciurea, director of „Democratia Weekly“ and lecturer of the Political Studies and International Relations Institute in Chisinau tried to find the roots of the conflict between Moldova and Trans-Dniester via geopolitical, ethnical and economical reasons. According to him, none of the stereotype explanations on why this problem arose, is correct. „There is certain distrust of the concept „frozen conflict“, since it implies that that everything is normal, that people have accepted such a situation. This is really bad“, said C.Ciurea. What does the official Chisinau thinks about that? - New elections, appropriate quota in the Parliament to Trans-Dniester, seats in the Government to representatives of this region and wide autonomy of the region. However this scenario is not supported by the opposition.
Aleksey Martynov, executive secretary of inter-parliamentarian assembly of non-recognized countries said that solution of the Trans-Dniester problem shall be a priority both for Russia and Europe. „What is Trans-Dniester today? They have created a picture of criminal and separatist republic but it contravenes reality. This region has all state institutes, and the system, necessary for a sovereign state. Therefore the history of Trans-Dniester is an example on how to reach independence by democratic means“, said A.Martynov. According to him, in principle, sovereignty of Trans-Dniester is the fact which has already taken place.
Viktor Gusin, a deputy of the Supreme Council of Trans-Dniester said that the reason of the conflict is a military encounter after the fall of the USSR. According to him, the role of Russia is of special importance for Trans-Dniester, since a division of the army of this particular country interfered and terminated bloodshed. According to V.Gusin, Europe and the United States will evaluate Moldova and Trans-Dniester only when they become economically strong countries.
Another important „frozen“ conflict of the post-soviet space is between Georgia and Abkhazia and Sothern Ossetia. According to the ambassador of Georgia in Lithuania David Apciauri, this problem should be solved exceptionally through a dialogue; moreover, stereotypes and traditional thinking should be avoided. He said, that all parties of the conflict shall talk and search for new ways out, since only then it would be possible to escape from the current complicated situation. „We must focus on new values and eliminate old standards. We also must not forget the importance of human rights and freedoms. We give our hand to you – let‘s go together as many countries did before“, said the ambassador. Moreover, he was convinced that in the conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia (irrespective of whether it is „frozen“ or not“) the Russian factor plays quite an important role. „We‘d like to believe that the Russian role will really become constructive“, said the ambassador of Georgia in Lithuania.
The necessity of a new dialogue was also supported by representatives of Abkhazia. Shamil Adzinba, vice chairman of the Sports and Youth Affairs Committee, highlighted the lack of information on Abkhazia and added that attitude towards this region and conflict with Georgia is very often presented tendentiously. „About ten years nobody was listening to our arguments; therefore today we are at a nonplus. A want to assure you that position of Abkhazia is very clear – a sovereign and independent state“, said Sh.Adzinba and added that only the complexity of the situation and threat of absolute isolation pushed Abkhazia to the arms of Russia and forced people the region to become citizens of Russia. Statements on preparations of Abkhazia to join Russia have been firmly disapproved by Maxim Gvindzia, vice minister of foreign affairs of the region. According to him such talks are destructive and do not reflect the reality.
Rolandas Kačinskas, the head of the Russia Division of the Department of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania), who spoke about the relationship between Russia and European Union, said that „frozen“ conflicts are a field of cooperation, since all the parties concerned are interested in progressive and easily predictable states. According to the Lithuanian diplomat, with the enlarged EU the above conflict countries become closer geographically. When states of the former socialist camp joined the EU, Brussels gained more experience, competence and understanding.
Participants of the Summer Academy are planning not only to discuss various conflict solving issues, but to elaborate and analyze possible scenarios in the working groups. A round table will be organized during the last day of the Summer Academy (Friday). Its subject – „Compulsion in the conflicts of the post-soviet space. Forms of compulsion and its extent“.
The host of the Summer Academy is the Center of Geopolitical Studies of Lithuania, partner of the event – The Center of International and Regional Policy of St.Petersburg. Sponsors: Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Open Society Fund Lithuania, Conrad Adenauer Fund, German Marshal Fund from the United States and the embassy of the United States in Lithuania.
Copyright: it is obligatory to indicate www.geopolitika.lt as a source in reprinting or otherwise using www.geopolitika.lt material.