Circassian-Georgian Relations Trends

Circassian-Georgian Relations Trends

 

By: Adel Bashqawi

October 28, 2019

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True friendship is one of the most appealing and respected relations that occur between two different (or more) peoples or nations. This can be on an intercontinental status, but would be more solid if the peoples are within the same region (the  Caucasus in this example). Common history between the peoples of the Caucasus can be described as conflicts occurring on a small scale. While wars as such have never occurred between two peoples of the Caucasus (except when a third foreign party is engaged in instigation and/or direct involvement).

∑       The past has never proven that the two sides have engaged in real conflicts, especially that Circassians and

Georgians had embraced Christianity from the third century.

 

∑       Considering and addressing significant matters that impact these two peoples, has made it easier to address priorities that directly affect the situation concerning crucial issues, such as the Circassian Question.

 

∑       Conferences, contacts, and dialogue in a dignified attitude have opened the door to express true friendship and agendas that they have in common, without the influence of one party against the other.

 

Similarities are shared in culture, art, literature, music, folk dance, and national costume. There is some resemblance in the words and their meanings such as:

Georgian-etiquette – Circassian – Khabza

Georgian-Tamada  – Circassian – T’hamada

Not to mention hospitality, generosity, fulfillment of promises and covenants, and the Caucasus mentality.

Let me briefly shed some light on the subject through the following phases:

Past –

The Circassian and Georgian civilizations are the largest nations of the Caucasus, and two main elements of the Caucasus Mosaic and civilization. This example reflects the reality of ancient pioneering civilizations that have contributed in augmenting human civilization.

“Faith runs deep in Georgia’s roots, often outlasting any challenges the nation has faced in its long history. Christianity became the state religion as early as the fourth century in some parts of Georgia. In the fifth century, the Bible was translated into Georgian. The independent Orthodox Church dates back anywhere from the fifth to tenth centuries.”[1]

Both were the object of foreign invaders’ ambitions and greed. They are characterized by the peculiarities of coexistence and resistance to invaders throughout history, reaching tsarist Russian subjugation in the nineteenth century.

Georgian Nart Sagas: Circassians share with Georgians in some parts of Georgia the Nart Sagas, which are integrated in cultures of the Caucasus and even compatible with them.  “The Nart sagas are heroic tales, extremely archaic and varied. They occur across the North Caucasus, among Chechens and Ingush, among Ossetians, among Circassians and their kin, and even among the Kartvelian speaking Svans and Georgian highlanders of northernmost Georgia.”[2]

Recent Past -

Georgians, just like Circassians, did not voluntarily join the Russian Empire, contrary to false allegations, propaganda, and misinformation. “Georgia did not join the Russian Empire of its own free will. In 1801 Russia annexed the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti. Subsequently, Russia also annexed other kingdoms and principalities of Georgia.”[3]

While Circassia stayed, under Russian rule, Georgia was able to be independent for a little more than two years; another bloody occupation was on the way. “February 25 of 1921 is one of the tragic and painful dates in Georgia’s history. On this day Georgia again lost its newly gained independence that lasted less than three years. Soon after freeing itself from Russian Empire’s more than century-old rule and declaring its independence in May of 1918, Red Army invaded Georgia in February of 1921.”[4] The most recent incursion attempt was repeated on August 10, 2008. “French President Nicolas Sarkozy, serving as the president of the European Union (EU), was instrumental in getting Georgia and Russia to agree to a peace plan on August 15-16.” [5] Consequently Russian troops had to withdraw from Georgian territories.

Professor Niko Javakhishvili from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University published an essay regarding Georgian contemporary public thought in the late half of the 19th century, and stated:

“The tragedy of the Circassian people found heartfelt sympathy on the part of progressive rep­re­se­n­tatives of Georgian public of the time. It should be noted that Georgians have always deeply respected the Circassian people. This is why the heroic history and contemporaneity of the Circassian people and, specifically, Muhajirism and its grave outcomes have been covered rather extensively both in Georgian print media and fiction. The Georgian print media of the 1860s-90s was particularly active.”[6]

“The articles, published in Georgian newspapers, praised brave Circassians as courageous warriors, the sight of which sowed fear in Russia.” [7]

“The diary My Travel from Tiflis to Saint Petersburg by the famous Georgian poet and military figure Grigol Orbeliani (1804-1883) has been regarded one of the best pieces of the Georgian documentary prose. The diary was written in 1831-1832, when the poet, on his way to Saint Petersburg, visited Kabar­da. The diary contains noteworthy data about the way of life of Karbardians of the time, that is, of Cir­ca­ssians. 27  The author praises the freedom-loving and chivalrous character of the people.” [8]

Present –

It is appropriate to mention in this unprecedented event, the progression of Georgian recognition of the Circassian Genocide:

-        Two Circassian conferences were held in Tbilisi in 2010 (March and November), titled, “Hidden Nations, Enduring Crimes: The Circassians and the People of the North Caucasus Between Past and Future.”

-        In March 2010, Circassian activists participating in the first Circassian conference in Tbilisi, signed an official letter appealing to recognize the Circassian Genocide.

-        The Georgian authorities made it possible for Circassians to access documents kept in Georgian Archives in Tbilisi.

-        Fourteen months later, Georgian parliamentary committees endorsed a draft resolution recognizing the 19th century massacre and deportation of Circassians. On May 20, 2011, the Georgian Parliament voted on a draft resolution that resulted in the approval of recognizing the genocide and ethnic cleansing inflicted on the Circassian nation in the 19th century.

-        On May 21, 2012, a monument in honor of the Circassian Genocide was inaugurated in the Black Sea resort of Anaklia, Georgia, one of the sea ports used to deport the Circassians to the Ottoman Empire. Together, a Circassian Culture Days event was held.[9] [10]

The Circassian Cultural Center in Tbilisi was established and inaugurated, which is now chaired by Prof. Merab Chukhua. It is incumbent upon us to mention the sober research: “The History of Problem, Chronicles of Events, the Scientific Conclusion,”[11] that he prepared and submitted to the Georgian Parliament. It is considered one of the main pillars on which the Georgian Parliament was convinced to recognize the Circassian genocide. This meaningful gesture demonstrates the lofty meanings inferred by the expression, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”[12]

“Nart Sagas, one of the oldest Caucasus eposes, received its second life on a theatrical stage of Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film State University of Georgia. A group of young actors performed the ancient stories of courage, friendship and love in Georgian and Ossetian languages.”[13]

A festival of poetry of the Caucasus, was held recently in Anaklia between September 20-23, 2019, with participants from some peoples of the Caucasus.[14]

Future Prospects –

The promising future for the Caucasus peoples lies in their solidarity, cooperation, and direct dialogue amongst themselves. This will enable resolving and settling any disagreement whatsoever, without foreign interference. Taking appropriate, courageous, and wise steps will assist embarking on the future with confidence, hope, and peace.

During the commemoration of the victims of genocide and deportation, “Papuna Davitaia, the Georgian state minister for diaspora issues,” said: This [monument] is an important step towards the Caucasian solidarity, adding that the Georgian state was now capable to carry out its Caucasian policy and engage with the peoples of the North Caucasus.”[15]

Conclusion

I therefore reaffirm the firm will to preserve the true friendship between Circassians and Georgians, which has proved its durability and sustainability. It is obvious that there is a possibility to solve any problem among the peoples of the Caucasus without the intervention of strangers, hoping that this friendship will serve as a model and an example to be followed by all the peoples and nations in the Caucasus.

I would like to mention the following inspirational quotes from the late Nelson Mandela:

In February 1985, in reply to an offer to release him if he renounced violence, Mandela said: “Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.”[16]

He also wrote in February 1975, “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”[17] [18]

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References

[1] (http://georgiatoday.ge/news/7177/Christianity-in-Georgia%3A-The-Resilience-of-a-Faith-%26-Nation)

[2] (Nart Sagas from the Caucasus by: John Colarusso)

[3] (https://www.mythdetector.ge/en/myth/falsification-history-1801-georgia-joined-russia-its-own-free-will)

[4] (https://www.georgianjournal.ge/society/32243-february-25-1921-heroic-georgians-who-fought-against-russias-red-army.html)

[5] (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34618.pdf)

[6] (http://justicefornorthcaucasus.info/?p=1251662239)

[7] (http://justicefornorthcaucasus.info/?p=1251662239)

[8] (http://justicefornorthcaucasus.info/?p=1251662239)

[9] (Page 443, Circassia: Born to Be Free, by Adel Bashqawi)

[10] (https://books.google.jo/books?id=iVM6DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT291&lpg=PT291&dq=the+first+Circassian+Conference+in+Tbilisi+on+March+2010&source=bl&ots=L-fgSFkrXX&sig=ACfU3U0a73E5pglYPMvq8KYSLe9TGZU7qQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiWsZ7K7YLlAhXVQhUIHS2BACYQ6AEwAnoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=the%20first%20Circassian%20Conference%20in%20Tbilisi%20on%20March%202010&f=false)

[11] (http://www.parliament.ge/files/1544_32742_536746_genocidi-en.pdf)

[12] (https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/a-friend-in-need.html)

[13] (https://www.ge.undp.org/content/georgia/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2018/young-actors-perform-nart-sagas-in-georgian-and-ossetian-.html)

[14] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvLZ1BfkZTA&app=desktop&fbclid=IwAR2NYTOOb_bpT1gYGK_b08YOn3GSvutT5UWhDtnQR18dxmKOaWqGAxcLr_Q)

[15] (Page 444, Circassia: Born to Be Free, by Adel Bashqawi)

[16] (https://www.quotes.net/quote/41800)

[17] (http://my-uplifting-quotes.com/famous_quotes/difficulties-break-some/)

[18] (https://books.google.jo/books?id=iVM6DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT282&lpg=PT282&dq=%E2%80%9CDifficulties+break+some+men+but+make+others.+No+axe+is+sharp+enough+to+cut+the+soul+of+a+sinner+who+keeps+on+trying,+one+armed+with+the+hope+that+he+will+rise+even+in+the+end.%E2%80%9D&source=bl&ots=L-fgSMqq_T&sig=ACfU3U01B-hq3ZkWe23cJe9DEGeqi8Rr4A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiStLG2iIXlAhVRyxoKHR27BVA4ChDoATABegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9CDifficulties%20break%20some%20men%20but%20make%20others.%20No%20axe%20is%20sharp%20enough%20to%20cut%20the%20soul%20of%20a%20sinner%20who%20keeps%20on%20trying%2C%20one%20armed%20with%20the%20hope%20that%20he%20will%20rise%20even%20in%20the%20end.%E2%80%9D&f=false)

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