academic studies on the diaspora and return

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The formation of the Circassian diaspora and the issue of return were reviewed at two international conferences in the last summer. The 2010 World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies was held in 19-24 July in Barcelona. The congress was attended by hundreds of academicians and experts. During the congress, the CircassianAcademia members organized a special session on "Diaspora Politics: Circassians in Turkey". The session was chaired by Setenay Nil Dogan (Yildiz Technical University, Turkey) and Setenay Shami of the Social Science Research Council (USA) was the discussant for the papers. The following papers were presented at the session: The Formation of a Circassian Diaspora in Turkey by Sevda Alankus (Izmir University of Economics, Turkey) and Erol Taymaz (METU, Turkey), Diasporic Manoeuvres visà-vis/through Nationalism: Circassian Activist Discourses in Turkey by Setenay Nil Dogan (Yildiz Technical University, Turkey), and Transformative Effect of the Internet on Circassian Diaspora Politics in Turkey by Zeynel Abidin Besleney (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK).

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Academicians convened to exchange their research findings on the issues regarding the diaspora and return during the Second Central Eurasian Studies Society Regional Conference. The conference was held at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, in 29-30 July 2010. A special session on "Diaspora, Return and Statehood in the Caucasus" was held during the conference. Esra Kizilbuga of METU (Turkey) presented her paper on The August 2008 War And Challenges for Georgian State Building. Diaspora organizations were the topic studied by Ergun Özgür of Marmara University (Turkey) in her paper The North Caucasian and Abkhaz Diasporas in Turkey with a special emphasis on diaspora organization. Cemre (Jade) Erciyes of Center for Strategic Studies (Abkhazia) reviewed the process of Return Migration to Abkhazia and the implication of recognition on that process. Presentations were followed by a lively discussion of Setenay Nil Dogan (Yildiz Technical University, Turkey).

unpo general assembly was held

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) members from around the world convened in Rome on May 27 -30, 2010, for the 10th Session of the General Assembly. The occasion provided a critical platform for dialogue between UNPO Members, and was concluded by the election of Mr. Ngawang Choephel from Tibet as UNPO President and Ms. Lana Agrba from Abkhazia as Vice President. They will serve until the next meeting of the General Assembly due to take place in 18 months.

Lana Agrba for Abkhazia and Cihan Candemir (Kaffed President), Handan Demiröz and Chichek Duman for the International Circassian Association attended the UNPO General Assembly.

The UNPO General Assembly was held in the Defence Meeting Room in the Italian Senate. In the opening session of the General Assembly, Sen. Emma Bonino, vice-president of the Italian Senate, welcomed fresh ideas in a rapidly changing world that maintain pathways of nonviolence. Following two days of cooperative dialogue, Members highlighted their key concerns and identified common themes. The General Assembly adopted a number of resolutions proposed by the Members. Summary of actions requested in Member Resolutions on Abkhazia and Circassia adopted by the X General Assembly are as follows:

UNPO General Assembly
Calls on the Georgian authorities to stop the blockade against Abkhazia, lift sanctions, and put a halt to widespread infringements on basic principles of freedom by abolishing restrictive legislation;

Requests all governments especially the Government of Turkey to take measures to provide safe, secure and direct travel of their citizens to Abkhazia;

UNPO General Assembly
Calls upon the Russian Federation to officially recognize all Circassians, whether they reside in historical Circassia or as part of the Circassian Diaspora, as the indigenous people of their motherland Circassia, affording them all rights, and accepting all responsibilities to them, as enshrined in the entire 46 Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

Calls upon the Russian Federation to amend current repatriation laws so as to recognize the Circassians as a “special case”, guaranteeing them the absolute and unconditional right of return to their motherland Circassia, the unhindered right of travel to and from historical Circassia, the right to dual citizenship by their choice, and the elimination of immigration quotas, language requirements, residence requirements, or any other hindering conditions, whatsoever, to obtaining permanent residency and citizenship and residency in their historical homeland of Circassia.

Calls upon the countries where the Circassian Diaspora lives in (Turkey, Jordan and Syria), to grant the Circassians dual citizenship, and to help the Circassian Diaspora to preserve their culture and to establish close links with their compatriots living in the homeland.

unpo general assembly 2010

Ending the Isolation Should be the Priority

abkhazia report

A report launched on 16 December 2009 by Ankara-based think tanks urged the Turkish government to engage in relations with Abkhazia. "The aim of this report is to question isolation policy and promote engagement by looking to the region as an economic entity," said Burcu Gültekin Punsmann, the lead author of the report "Abkhazia for the Integration of the Black Sea," which was co-published by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM).

Economic sanctions are policy tools used by governments to constrain business activity across borders with intended policy outcomes, according to the report, which underlined that cooperation was the key factor in ensuring success. In 1996, Abkhazia was virtually cut off from the outside world. The dire situation of the war-ruined economy was further exacerbated by the Russian-Georgian maritime and land blockade, which caused economic and social disruption.

Turkey responded positively to the call to impose economic sanctions on Abkhazia and canceled direct cruises between the ports of Trabzon and Sukhum in 1996. Today, the maritime link between Turkey and Abkhazia is officially closed. Turkey is justifying its compliance with the isolation regime as respect for the territorial integrity of Georgia.

"Turkey can become an important actor to end the isolation of Abkhazia," said Punsmann, stressing the fact that Turkey was as important for Abkhazia as Russia in terms of foreign economic relations. "It is time for both the Turkish and Georgian governments to find practical ways to open up to Abkhazia and promote more active, more pro-engagement policy toward Abkhazia," she said.

The findings of the paper were discussed during the panel discussion "Untapped Potential for Regional Engagement, Looking at Abkhazia". Peter Semneby (EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus), Irakli Alasania (Chairman of Our Georgia-Free Democrats Party of Georgia) and Nikolay Trapsh (Dean of the History Faculty of Rostov On Don University) contributed to the panel chaired by Erol Taymaz of the Middle East Technical University. The speakers unanimously stressed the need for engagement policies towards Abkhazia and call for pragmatic approaches aiming at opening up channels of communication for people and trade. Turkey’s potential to contribute to confidence building measures between Georgians and Abkhazians has been highlighted during the debate.

The full text of the report is available at

Security and Cooperation in the Caucasus

conference on the independence of abkhazia

The Caucasian Center for Strategic Studies (Kafsam) organized a round table discussion on May 26, 2009. Mr. Maxim Gunjia, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia, delivered a speech on "Enhancing Security and Cooperation in the Caucasus". The round table discussion, held at TEPAV, was attended by 32 people, including 21 representatives from 19 foreign missions, academicians, experts, and columnists.

Mr. Gunja provided a comprehensive assessment of the current situation in the Caucasus, and presented his views on the "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform" proposed by Turkey right after the 5-day war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008.

Adygeans in the 19th Century: Problems of War and Peace

Maikop State Technology University organized a conference on the "Adygeans in the 19th Century: Problems of War and Peace" on May 21, 2009, in Maikop. The conference was attended by many historians from the Adygean Rebuplic and the Russian Federation. Kafsam members, Sevda Alankus and Erol Taymaz presented a paper at the conference, on "The Formation of a Circassian Diaspora in Turkey", and Cahit Arslan on "The Tales of Identity from Caucasus to Diaspora".

kafsam studies

Murat Topçu
Karachai-Cherkess Republic
Kafsam Discussion Papers 4, May 2010.

Mitat Çelikpala
New Abkhazia - South Ossetia "Opening" of Georgia?
Kafsam Policy Brief 1, January 2010.

Erol Taymaz
Economic Cooperation for Stability in the Caucasus: Prospects for Abkhazia-Turkey Economic Relations
Kafsam Discussion Papers 3, November 2009.

The Independence of Abkhazia and Scenarios for the Caucasus

conference on the independence of abkhazia

The Friends of Abkhazia, a citizens' platform,organized a conference on "The Independence of Abkhazia and Scenarios for the Causus"on May 30-31, 2009, at Istanbul Bilgi University, Dolapdere Campus. The conference was attended by 26 speakers from the Russian Federation, the USA, Canada, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and Abkhazia. The independence of Abkhazia was assessed in the light of "the right of nations for self-determination" and the international political-legal norms.

The speakers of the conference were John Colarusso (McMaster University, Canada), Sergei Markov (Member of the Russian Parliament; Director of Political Research Institute), George Hewitt (Lonon University, Member of the British Academy), Marino Busdachin (Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization/UNPO), Nikolai Zlobin (WSI -World Security Institute, Director of Russia and Eurasia Program), Viacheslav A. Chirikba (Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Abkhazia), Maksim Gunjia (Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Abkhazia), Ismail Ünal (Mayor of Beşiktaş), Cihan Candemir (President of the Federation of the Caucasian Associations), Charlotte Hille (Amsterdam University), Halit Kakinç (Bilgi University), Sezai Babakuş (Speaker, the Friends of Abkhazia), Erol Taymaz (METU), Soner Gogua (Member of the Abkhazia Parliament), Liana Kvarchelia (Director of the Center for Humanitarian Programs, Abkhazia), Mitat Çelikpala (TOBB economy and Technology University), Manana Gurgulya (Director of Apsnypress, Official News Agency of Abkhazia), Lawrence Scott Sheets (International Crisis Group Analyist and The Caucasus Project Director), Aleksandre Toumarkine (Galatasaray University), Asida Lomia (Expert, Sukhum), Ludmila Sagariya (Expert, Sukhum), Setenay Nil Dogan (Yıldız Teknik University), Recep Yilmaz(Former President of the Caucasus Abkhazia Cultural Association), Zeynel A. Besleney (London University), Murat Papsu (Expert, Istanbul) and Ergün Özgür (Expert, Member of the Friends of Abkhazia).