There is “a significant lobby” within the Georgian Parliament pushing for recognizing 19th century massacre and deportations of Circassians by the Tsarist Russia in the northwest Caucasus as “genocide,” a ruling party lawmaker told Civil.ge on May 11.
The Parliament may take decision on the issue during the current spring session, said MP Nugzar Tsiklauri, who chairs the parliamentary committee on diaspora and Caucasus issues.
He said that the committee would hold a hearing tentatively on Friday to listen “to final conclusion of academic circles” on this issue and after that the matter would move on the phase of "political decision.”
“I will not hide, that there is a serious and a significant lobby within the Parliament. There are a significant number of lawmakers who are in favor to positively decide this issue,” MP Tsiklauri said.
A group of Georgian lawmakers first announced about the readiness to launch "broad discussions on cases of the massacres and deportations of Circassians" in April, 2010. The announcement was made a month after 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-based Jamestown 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, 2010 participants made an appeal to the Georgian Parliament requesting to recognize deportations and massacre of Circassians more than a century ago as genocide.
“The Georgian Parliament should take such a decision, which would have a very strong academic foundation,” MP Tsiklauri told Civil.ge on May 11 and added that because of the issue’s “complexity” discussions had been ongoing within the Parliament for over a year already.
“At this stage I can not speak about timeframe; but it won’t be too long process,” he said. “I do not rule out that the decision may be taken during the current [spring] session of the Parliament.”
He said that the Georgian Parliament had received appeals from Circassian diasporas from over dozen of countries, including from Turkey, Israel, Jordan, the United States and Canada.
MP Tsiklauri said that the Georgian Parliament’s decision to consider the issue was motivated by “solidarity” towards the Caucasus people and “is in no way retaliation against Russia for occupying Georgian territories.”
“Of course [recognition of Circassian genocide] will irritate Russia, but it gets irritated on everything,” he said.
No nation has recognized the deaths of Circassians in the 19th century as genocide.