We present the 13th volume in the series of Georgian-Abkhaz dialogue conferences that were launched in 1997 by the University of California, Irvine with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Since 2004 participants from Russia and various international organizations have been involved in the dialogue process. The conferences have had bilateral, trilateral and multilateral sessions involving representatives of various international organizations.
The purpose of this project and its multi-year series of conferences and publications is to facilitate dialogues to help the sides in the conflict reach a mutually satisfactory peaceful resolution. The conferences help keep open the channels of communication between civil society activists, academics, journalists and policy makers from the two communities, and give them access to their counterparts in Russia and various international organizations. Because of the project’s dedication to full transparency, the conferences also involve many more people in the dialogues through these publications and post conference meetings in each community.
This volume includes transcripts of presentations and discussions at the bilateral and multilateral conference held in Istanbul, June 24-27, 2006. The main topic was how Black Sea integration influences the prospects for resolution of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. As a consequence of the enlargement of NATO and the European Union, and – to a lesser extent – in connection with the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Black Sea is increasingly becoming part of a united space of political and strategic importance. Romania and Bulgaria have already become members of NATO and will soon be joining the EU; Turkey is a NATO member and candidate for EU membership. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are being included into the ENP and are striving for NATO membership. Only Russia and the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia remain outside this framework. However, Russia is actively participating in the work of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).
Over a period of 4 days participants from Georgia and Abkhazia discussed among themselves and together with international guests on what conditions Abkhazia would like to or could become part of the integration processes around the Black Sea, and which prospects would emerge for Abkhazia; and what impact these processes would have on resolving the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.
The conference was organized in cooperation with the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. Since 2004 this process has received major administrative and financial support from the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.