Saturday, August 07, 2010

TBILISI: Droht die Schließung des Kaukasischen Hauses durch die Georgische Regierung? (

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

dem Kaukasischen Haus in Tbilissi droht die Schließung, siehe Anlagen.
Es setzt sich seit mehr als 20 Jahren für den interkulturellen Austausch der kaukasischen Völker und für die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte in Georgien ein.

Die Projekte des Kaukasischen Hauses werden u. a. von der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung unterstützt.

Anmerkung von mir: Naira Gelaschwili - die Direktorin des "Kaukasischen Hauses" ist eine Schriftstellerin, Friedensaktivistin, engagierte Kaukasus-Expertin, die über Jahre diese Institution mit ihren Mitstreitern beseelt hat. Auch über die Landesgrenzen hinaus ist sie bekannt. Zahlreiche Artikel- auch in der deutschen Presse - spricht für ihr Engagement und ihre exzellenten Verbindungen. Warum soll diese Institution jetzt geschlossen werden? (Ralph Hälbig)

Aus dem kaukasischen Teufelskreis (Berliner Zeitung)

Naira Gelaschwili, Direktorin des Kulturzentrums „Kaukasisches Haus“, warf Saakaschwili und seiner Umgebung vor, dass sie nach dem Krieg mit seinen für Georgien katastrophalen Folgen nichts anderes im Sinn hätten als den Machterhalten ( >>>

Im Kaukasischen Haus wird mit verschiedenen Kultur­angeboten versucht, Nationalisierung und Militarisierung im Kaukasus zu verhindern. Interview mit Naira Gelaschwili >>>

Georgische Schriftstellerin Naira Gelaschwili über den Krieg: "Die Leute sind gebrochen" ( >>>

Die Georgierin, die Brücken in den Kaukasus baut. Naira Gelaschwili übersetzt nicht nur Hölderlin ( >>>

Der Kaukasus ist – auch dank solcher engagierten Menschen wie Naira Gelaschwili – ein kultureller Ort, dessen Vielfalt kaum zu überschauen ist. >>>

Naira Gelaschvili >>>

«Das ist pure Kriegspropaganda. Präsident Michail Saakaschwili fördert ganz gezielt die antirussische Stimmung», sagt die Leiterin des kulturpolitisch engagierten Kaukasus-Hauses in Tiflis, Naira Gelaschwili. ( >>> und ( >>>

Die georgische Übersetzerin und Menschenrechtsaktivistin Naira Gelaschwili gewährt Einblicke in die Politik Georgiens ... ( >>>

Die georgische Kaukasus-Expertin Naira Gelaschwili hat vor einer weiteren «Russifizierung» der uralten Bergvölker durch Moskau gewarnt ( >>>

Für weitere Informationen bin ich gern zur Auskunft bereit.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Ekkehard Maaß
Deutsch-Kaukasische Gesellschaft e. V.
Schönfließer Straße 21, 10439 Berlin
Tel 030 4457006 / mobil 0171 1773543
Spendenkonto HypoVereinsbank
BLZ 10020890 / Kto 5619661


Decree of the President of Georgia
July 14, 2010
About Legal Entity of Public Law

According article 5, paragraph B, sub-paragraph of the Law of Georgia on “About Legal Entity of Public Law” , on the basis of the Caucasian House – The Center for Cultural Relations of Georgia establish “The Smirnov’s Museum” – the Legal Entity of Public Law (furthr – Museum).
The Museum is the assignee of the Center for Cultural Relation - The Caucasian House.
The Ministry of Culture and Monument defense have to provide:
a) the state control of the museum;
b) Ratification of the statute of the Museum and appoint the syndic (representative person) on representation.
This Decree will be taken in action right after publication.

Mikheil Saakashvili


Explanation for Society of the Caucasian House

An ordinance of President of Georgia on establishing a legal entity of public law, the Smirnoff Museum, on the basis of the Caucasian House and making it the legal successor of the House caused deep anxiety among the public. Calls and letters of sympathy and readiness to provide help come to the Caucasian House from its friends, people who realize the significance and appreciate the activity of the House, from everywhere – south or north Caucasus, abroad, although we have not yet made any comment concerning the ordinance, neither have we informed our foreign friends and donor organization about it. We will do this along with further developments.

Dear Friends! First, let us to thank you for this support and interest. This has made us feel again that the society exists, reasons and is ready to fight; that people have adequately assessed that the abolition of Caucasian House is a real drama, a disturbing symbol, especially in the context of the disaster caused by the 2008 August war when Russia once again invaded Georgia and occupied a very significant part of our country, once again disintegrated the Caucasus.

At the same time I would like to calm you down and remind you that there was a governmental entity, the Caucasian House and a non-governmental organization, the Center for Cultural Relations Caucasian House. The employees of governmental Caucasian House, as physical persons, founded the NGO in 1999, which still exists now.

The governmental Caucasian House was the legal successor of that organization (Translators’ Board), which in 1985 was bequeathed with four rooms of the so-called Smirnoff house together with Tamamshev and Smirnoff valuable family objects. The remaining four apartments in this dilapidated, nearly ruined two-storey house were sold earlier by Smirnoffs themselves and thus, represented private property.

A friend of the Caucasian House, the European Horizon Foundation, which highly appreciated a peace and cultural-educational activity of the organization, carried out the renovation and reconstruction of the entire building in 1998-2002, whilst the Krupp Foundation, upon the request of Horizon, restored the Smirnoff-Tamamshev heirlooms. At the same time, the Horizon Foundation “provided a debt to the municipality to buy out the three apartments sold by Smirnoffs. The fourth apartment, after the renovation had been completed, was sold by the owner himself to Naira Gelashvili. Since then this space has been used by the Caucasian House.

Both these organizations – the governmental and non-governmental Caucasian Houses – represented a single strong cultural-educational and peace centre with close ties with the entire Caucasus and Europe as well as eastern countries and were implementing a diverse conceptual programme with a special focus on Caucasian projects.

The ordinance of President of Georgia envisages the abolition of the governmental Caucasian House which along with other budget organizations was deprived of public financing back in 2005. This, we believe, was a mistake on the part of the state because of the significance and the standing it enjoyed in the Caucasus and Europe as a peace organization. Especially, given that the budget funding was symbolic (about 20 000 Lari a year).

Giorgi Gabashvili, the minister of culture of that time, told us then that although the funding of the Caucasian House was terminated, the organization, being of special state importance, would receive the same amount in the form of a so-called programme financing. The minister also promised that the ministry of culture would spare no efforts to reinstate the status of a legal entity of public law to the Caucasian House and officially approve its ownership over the building which was saved from wrecking and restored as the office of the Caucasian House by the Horizon Foundation in 1998-2000 under the agreement with the Ministry of Culture. This agreement explicitly states that should the Caucasian House be forced to leave this renovated and well-furnished building, the Foundation reserves the right to appeal to a relevant court in the Netherlands to claim the recovery of the amount spent for the restoration.

The minister, however, delivered only on the first half of his promise, leaving the second half un-kept.

Why was the reinstatement of the Caucasian House so important when it was actually maintained by the non-governmental organization? It was important because, the governmental Caucasian House was officially and legally linked to the building, whilst the non-governmental Caucasian House had an agreement with it on mutual use. This somewhat unique model operated perfectly and was also significant in some way for the state as the entire peace policy of the Caucasian House, which boosted confidence to it throughout the Caucasus, was associated with the state.

However, after the abolition of the non-governmental organization, the Caucasian House was left without a legal right on the building which was restored and well-furnished by it and all current and utilities costs of which has been paid by its donor organization, the Horizon Foundation.

Such a situation has arisen anxiety among all the donors and first and foremost, the Horizon Foundation. The Foundation has repeatedly addressed the president, ministers of culture, Giorgi Gabashvili and Nika Rurua, with questions and practical suggestions, but in vain. No reply followed from any of them. Such a disregard – instead of gratefulness – was an embarrassment and disappointment for the board of this Foundation, consisting of German, Dutch, British members, indeed noble people, intellectuals. One of significant causes for these people, who fell in love with Georgia, was the support of the Caucasian House and the country, as a whole.

Let me recall that in addition to the rehabilitation of the Caucasian House and the building in the Nukriani village (which houses the branch of the Caucasian House), the Horizon Foundation restored small monasteries and icons of Svaneti, saved Yermakoff’s unique archive where the works are still in progress, financed archeological excavations at Nekresi, for ten years has funded the education and psychological rehabilitation of children refugees from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, the Caucasus public university, our publishing house working in Caucasusian and European languages, so on and so forth. The Foundation was willing to finance restoration works at Davit Gareji Monastery and many other projects, but its heart has been broken.

The offence reached its climax when the 24 Hours newspaper, in the spring of 2008 (that is, before the August war), without any double-checking published a letter from famous representatives of Russian intelligentsia to President of Georgia, in which these ladies and gentlemen, who had never before uttered a word about the wanton acts committed by Russia in the Caucasus and Georgia, voiced their concern about the Smirnoff Museum alleging that it is in tatters and urgently needs to be saved and that the Caucasian House has intruded into the territory of the Smirnoff museum.

As it transpired, this misleading collective letter was spearheaded by Aleksandr Svatikov, one of the members of the Russian Club which operates in Tbilisi, and a former protector of the museum, who has overtly or covertly been fighting against the Caucasian House since its inception, as he believed that an organization with such a name shall not exist.

Upon the publication of this letter, the Ministry of Culture declared on the TV, without any consultation with us, that he intends to grant a state status to Smirnoff Museum, i.e. separate it from the Caucasian House.

It also transpired that the Ministry of Culture which stopped replying to any of the Caucasian House’s letters, was actively cooperating with the Russian Club and Mr. Aleksandr Svatikov – the person who lost any confidence among the employees of the Caucasian House. It should also be noted here, that due to created tense situation the department for the protection of cultural monuments officially demanded that we seal the museum and work under the regime which required the sealing and opening of the museum every working day. In agreement with the department two seals were attached to the entrance door – one by the protector of the funds, Aleksand Svatikov, and another seal by the administration of the House. However it came to happen that starting from that very day Aleksand Svatikov refused to open the museum until after the ministry of culture had officially granted the status of the museum to it. Actually, this was disobedience to the organization where he worked on the one hand, and, on the other, a sort of blackmail to the ministry of culture.

Since March 2009, the leadership of the Caucasian House has repeatedly sent notifications to the Ministry of Culture that such a behaviour of Aleksand Svatikov seriously endangers unique items kept in the museum, but during a year and a half a relevant department of the ministry of culture has not responded to the alarm raised by us and therefore, the Smirnoff-Tamamshev museum remains sealed to date and we have no idea of what has happened to objects and manuscripts kept there. We doubted – not without reason – that all this has been done deliberately to blame the Caucasian House of all the faults and create such a situation around it, which is being witnessed now by the Caucasian House, Georgian society, partner organizations all over the Caucasus and beyond it.

The fruit of the cooperation with the Russian Club was also the album, Smirnoff’s House, published by the Ministry of Culture and the Russian Club in 2008. One cannot find any trace of the Caucasian House and European foundations, i.e. Georgian-European trace in this Album and it also says nothing of the fact that the Smirnoff museum is part of the Caucasian House and that it was saved and revived by the House and its friends and without this care both the House and the museum would have been long destroyed.

In this regard, the Horizon Foundation sent a letter of protest to the ministry of culture which was again left unanswered.

Conspiratorial activities of the government created impression that it intended to replace the Caucasian House with not just Smirnoff museum but by the house of Russian culture. One would wonder how could either Smirnoff museum or the house of Russian culture implement common Caucasian projects? For example, how could they contribute to intensification of the Georgian-Caucasus relations, publication of literary works in Caucasian languages, provide an impartial description of modern conflicts in the Caucasus or historic Russia-Caucasus relations?

The situation today is the following: the Horizon Foundation proposes the government to consider the money it paid for the restoration of the building (more than half a million US dollars) as the buy-out amount and grant the ownership of the restored building to the NGO Caucasian House whilst taking themselves the Smirnoff-Tamamshev museum placed in three rooms. Or take the entire building and refund the money paid for the restoration in order to buy a new building for the Caucasian House. It is exactly this condition that is provided in the agreement between the Horizon Foundation and the Ministry of Culture (in 1998-99): should the Caucasian House be forced to leave the building restored for it, the government of Georgia shall return the amount paid for the restoration to the Foundation.

Thus, our dear friends, we, the employees of the Caucasian House, whom the government ignores for a long time now, are waiting, hoping that the reason may prevail and the Caucasus and Georgia may not lose a unique centre for dialogue, meetings, peace, education and culture, the house which since long ago has cherished the idea of saving the Caucasian solidarity; may not destroy a microcosm so dear to all the peaceful Caucasians, many refugee children and national minorities.

As regards the NGO Caucasian House, it will carry on its activity but if it leaves the building, problems will emerge in the implementation of such projects as Weekend School for internally displaced and socially vulnerable children, Culture Calendar, Conversations about Caucasus and others.

It seems as if from its inception the Caucasian House and we – its staff - have been doomed to continuous attacks from Russian or Georgia special services or all types of obscurantist.

Along with the steps taken by the government in the forthcoming days we will invite you to the Caucasian House to have a public discussion on the issue and agree upon further actions.

Thank you once again for your support.

Press service of the Caucasian house
27 July 2010

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