Irakli Kakabadze

First of all I would like to recall the great initiative of the late Abkhazian President, Sergei Bagapsh, about the demilitarization of the entire Caucasus.

I think this was a very visionary statement for 21st century Caucasians: Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Abkhazians, Ossetians, Georgians, Greeks, Russians, Circassians, Chechens, Ingushetians, Karachay-Balkars, Kurds, Aisori, Lezgins, and many other great nations that populate our wonderful region. Since the introduction of Jacobin Nationalism in 1992, we have had many horrible conflicts, because, instead of internationalism, we have blindly followed the idea that led Europe to two terrible wars in the 20th century. Europe itself has said ‘no’ to Jacobin Nationalism and militarization after World War II. Caucasians have a long tradition of coexistence without petty ethnocentric nationalism. Sergei Bagapsh understood this very well.

Since the Caucasian countries started to militarize and fight each other, everyone has suffered. Big empires have benefited from this and today control the economy and politics in the South Caucasus - that is because of the militarization and ethnic enmity that the recent neoliberal order has created in the region. The great Abkhazian tradition of hospitality is a wonderful proof that people through centuries were able to deal with each other without arms - compassion and solidarity are much more of their human needs than war and competition. Restoring and developing economic, cultural and, first of all, human relationships between Caucasian nations is essential. Adjika and wine are also great tools for this. People sitting around a Caucasian table have always found common ground. To achieve this, it is necessary for Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis to rethink their approach to "Nation-Statehood" and start thinking about a unified Caucasian home, free from military confrontations, where all the minorities will have equal rights, and there will be no 'National Darwinism' in the region. The vision of Sergei Bagapsh for the complete demilitarization of the Caucasus - at least the South Caucasus - is the only way for all of us to live. And it is a much more realistic option than being in constant wars and confrontations.

Irakli Kakabadze
Georgian writer, performance artist, peace and human rights activist. Oxfam/PEN Award winner an the author of “Candidate Jokola” the love story between Georgian and Abkhaz. Cornell University, USA.

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