A group of Georgian lawmakers announced on April 26 about the readiness to launch "broad discussions on cases of the massacres and deportations of Circassians" by the Tsarist Russia in the North Caucasus in second half of 19th century.
The announcement by the Georgian parliamentary group of friendship with the peoples of North Caucasus comes a month after Tbilisi hosted a conference, Hidden Nations, Enduring Crimes: The Circassians & the Peoples of the North Caucasus Between Past and Future. The conference was organized by Washington-basedJamestown Foundation and Tbilisi-based Ilia State University’s International School for Caucasus Studies with the participants including, among others, representatives of Circassian diaspora.
At the end of the conference, on March 21, participants made an appealto the Georgian Parliament requesting to recognize deportations and massacre of Circassians more than a century ago as a genocide.
"You know that the international conference was held in Tbilisi in March with consequent appeal to the Georgian Parliament... We think that the first stage of these discussions should be an active consultation with our and foreign academic circles, political experts," a ruling party lawmaker, Nugzar Tsiklauri, who is a member of the parliamentary group of friendship with the North Caucasian people, said on April 26.
"We deem it necessary to further broaden scope of discussions on the matter both within and outside Georgia," he added.
The appeal also request the Georgian Parliament to declare May 21, "which marks the Russian celebration of the occupation of the North West Caucasus in 1864, as a memorial day of the victims of the Circassian genocide, and to recognize Sochi as the location and symbol of Circassian genocide and ethnic cleansing."
In mid-April, an anonymous YouTube user posted on its account, launched just a day earlier, several audio files of what is claimed to be recorded phone conversations between senior Georgian officials and diplomats, suggesting that Tbilisi is building contacts with representatives of North Caucasian communities living outside Russia. Recordings are allegedly made in mid-December, 2009.
In one of the audio files (several of them are of poor quality and inaudible), which is described as "a conversation between Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and Georgia's ambassador to the United States Batu Kutelia", the man's voice which is very much similar to the one of Merabishvili tells interlocutor that there was a misunderstanding and no meeting of the Georgian President with an Ingush man, identified with a first name - Ibragim, was planned.
"Yes we meet with North Caucasians time after time, but not the President... We are summoning them separately and talking with them... Givi [apparently referring to a senior ruling party lawmaker Givi Targamadze] and [Gia] Tortladze [a lawmaker from parliamentary minority] usually meet them and I also meet them sometimes."
In another audio file, a man, porportadly MP Givi Targamadze, alledgeldy speaks with Georgia's ambassador to Egypt and Syria, Gocha Japaridze and tells him "to find as many as possible North Caucasian organizations - Circassian, Ingush, Chechen etc." in Egypt and Syria.
"To put it directly, in our Parliament we are intending to recognize thier genocide... So now we are intensively engaged in searching for these people everywhere, including in Turkey, Jordan; I have already spoken with ambassadors there... Now I'm with Vano, together discussing this matter," the man with voice very much similar to the one of MP Givi Targamadze tells the interlocutor.
On April 23, a day before the 95th anniversary of the start of the massacre of Armenians in Ottoman Empire was marked, a group of Armenian community in Tbilisi made a formal appeal to the Georgian Parliament - one of many other similar appeals made in previous years - requesting to recognize mass killings of Armenians century ago as a genocide. There has been no formal response by the Georgian Parliament to those appeals.