septiembre 10, 2011

ABKHAZ DE FACTO PRIME MINISTER ANKVAB ON ECONOMY AND RELATIONS WITH THE GEORGIANS

Reference id: 07TBILISI1265

Cable time: Wed, 30 May 2007 12:07 UTC

Origin: Embassy Tbilisi

Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

Published on: 1 Sep 2011

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001265

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/29/2017

TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL [External Political Relations], ECON [Economic Conditions], GG [Georgia]

SUBJECT: ABKHAZ DE FACTO PRIME MINISTER ANKVAB ON ECONOMY AND RELATIONS WITH THE GEORGIANS

Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b)&(d). Summary

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¶1. (C) In a meeting with Ambassador May 23, Abkhaz de facto prime minister Alexander Ankvab acknowledged that neither economic growth nor Russian investment in Abkhazia were high, although he thought both would increase considerably with the prospect of the 2014 Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi. Ankvab said the Abkhaz had no interest in a future within Georgia, no matter how prosperous Georgia became. He said the Abkhaz side had called off his planned meeting in March with Georgian Prime Minister Noghaideli because the Georgians intended to discuss issues beyond hydroelectric power -- the planned topic of the meeting. He said he would be willing to talk to any Georgian official if his political leadership instructed him to do so. GDP? We Prefer not to Know

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¶2. (C) The Ambassador asked Ankvab about the state of the Abkhaz economy, and whether the de facto government calculates GDP. Ankvab said no, adding with a smile that the figures might be so low "they would spoil our mood." He said there were calculations of per capita income and "how much the state can earn," and these figures were modest but improving. Asked if Abkhazia was benefiting from Russian investment, Ankvab said he thought "we will," once serious construction gets underway in connection with a Sochi Olympics in 2014. He said Abkhazia would be the closest and best source for gravel and other construction materials needed for the Games. ¶3. (C) Ankvab said the Abkhaz administration was working on multi-year projects to improve the road from Sochi through Abkhazia to the Enguri River, as well as the route to Lake Ritsa, in order to attract more summer tourists. He said that there was not yet large-scale industrial investment from Russia; thus far, the only major Russian investment was for resorts in the Gagra area. He acknowledged that many of the tourists in Abkhazia were day-trippers who came from Sochi to take advantage of the free beaches and lower food prices. Ankvab said Abkhazia had widened its international economic contacts in recent years, including with Turkey. He said Abkhazia was negotiating with large European companies. Why No Noghaideli Meeting

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¶4. (C) Ankvab said he was aware of the new hotels going up in the Georgian seaside resort of Batumi, and added that if Georgia "would forget about tensions in Abkhazia" it had a good chance to develop economically. He said Georgia appeared incapable of using "gentlemanly means" to promote its goal of reclaiming Abkhazia, and he cited as examples the building of youth camps near Abkhazia, the installation of the Abkhaz Government-in-Exile in Upper Kodori, and Saakashvili's speech praising three students released from Abkhaz custody.

¶5. (C) The Ambassador said the Georgians had been disappointed by the cancellation of Ankvab's meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Noghaideli. Ankvab also expressed disappointment, saying he had taken seriously the Georgians' interest in discussing the renovation of hydroelectric power production from the Enguri reservoir. Ankvab said, however, that he had obtained information that the Georgians planned to bring other people to the meeting, including officials working on Georgian foreign policy and relations with Abkhazia, as well as the press. He said his message had been that Abkhazia was not ready for such a meeting, and had agreed only to discuss energy production. Our People Don't Want to Live with Georgians

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¶6. (C) The Ambassador noted that the failure to have even limited meetings with the Georgians was a missed opportunity. Ankvab agreed that personal contacts were useful, but he argued that the Georgians gave the Abkhaz nothing to discuss, and focused only on making Abkhazia part of Georgia. Ankvab said this was impossible for the Abkhaz, who want to live on their own and not be "part of anything." He dismissed the idea of autonomy within Georgia, saying that "our people don't want to live with the Georgians" and "there is blood between our two nations." He said there was a real competition of views on many political issues in Abkhazia, but all forces were united on relations with Georgia; no political leader would have support for changing the policy. He said the Georgians were "unable to hide" the fact that they were not interested in the Abkhaz themselves but in their territory. Asked about the attitudes of the Abkhaz TBILISI 00001265 002 OF 002 younger generation, Ankvab predicted that views toward Georgians would be "passed in the genetic code." UFOs in Kodori March 11?

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¶7. (C) Pressed by the Ambassador on the importance of dialogue, Ankvab said he was not opposed but argued that conditions for dialogue were not in place. Among other complaints about Georgia, Ankvab asked why it was necessary for Georgia to re-take control of the Upper Kodori Gorge. The Ambassador explained that under the Moscow ceasefire agreement the Georgians have a right to be there, and their presence had remained within agreed limits even after the missile attack on Georgian positions there March 11. Ankvab then asked rhetorically "was it an attack?" and the Ambassador responded that it was a very serious incident, as described in the UN report. Ankvab said that it was more like a case of UFOs. The Ambassador said such incidents underscored the need for dialogue, and Ankvab reiterated his support for dialogue, saying that if his political leadership so instructed him, he would talk to "Noghaideli, Okruashvili, or anyone else." (Note: Until corrected by the Ambassador, Ankvab did not seem to know that former Georgian Defense Minister Okruashvili left government in 2006.) Comment

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¶8. (C) Georgian officials have told us they believe that Ankvab is a major player in Abkhaz politics, especially on economic issues. It is clear from this conversation that a major part of the Abkhaz economic plan is to wait for the hoped-for Sochi Olympics to rain down investments and jobs on Abkhazia. If in fact the International Olympic Committee awards the 2014 games to Sochi in its meeting July 4, it is certain that the Olympics will become the centerpiece of the de facto authorities' internal public relations campaign. It is interesting that even a high Abkhaz official like Ankvab has remarkably little information about what is going on in Georgia. For ordinary Abkhaz, with even less information about Georgia's economic development, and potentially with a promise from their authorities of economic deliverance in 2014, the idea of a future within Georgia will likely remain a very tough sell. They never mention, however, that ethnic Abkhaz are not all -- and indeed are probably not even a majority -- of the population of Abkhazia. About one-third of Abkhazia is composed of ethnic Georgians, and many observers believe ethnic Armenians may now outnumber the Abkhaz. TEFFT

septiembre 03, 2011

10DUSHANBE82, Embassy Dushanbe, MAYOR MEETS AMBASSADOR, CONFIRMS EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE

Reference id: 10DUSHANBE82

Origin: Embassy Dushanbe

Time: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 11:18 UTC

Classification: CONFIDENTIAL


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000082 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 1/15/2020

TAGS: PGOV[Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL[External Political Relations], PHUM[Human Rights], TI[Tajikistan]

SUBJECT: MAYOR MEETS AMBASSADOR, CONFIRMS EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE

CLASSIFIED BY: Ken Gross, Ambassador, EXEC, DoS. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

¶1. (C) Summary: In a platitude-ridden meeting, Dushanbe Mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev said upcoming elections would be free and fair, that contributions to the Roghun Dam were voluntary, and that the losses suffered by the United States in Afghanistan were felt by Tajiks as their own. Ubaidulloev asked for help in getting Tajik students admitted to Harvard University, but effectively declined to help find a new location for an American Corner in Dushanbe. He asserted the existence of life on other planets, caveating this by noting that we should focus on solving our problems on Earth. End Summary.

AFGHANISTAN

¶2. (SBU) On January 13 Ambassador called on Dushanbe Mayor and Chairman of the upper house of Parliament Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev at his parliamentary office. The Mayor began the meeting with a lengthy discourse on Afghanistan, thanking the United States for its contributions and sacrifices there, and saying that U.S. activities there were very important "as we enter the third millennium and the 21st century." Ubaidulloev thought the main task there was to build a sense of national identity among ethnically disparate groups, and said the United States was an example for this. He noted that "war is very dangerous", and said "we know there is life on other planets, but we must make peace here first."

ELECTION RESULTS ARE LIKE EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI – UNPREDICTABLE

¶3. (SBU) Ambassador asked for the Mayor's prediction on the results in the upcoming election. Ubaidulloev said predicting the results was as hard as "predicting the earthquake in Haiti." He assured Ambassador that the elections would be free, transparent, and fair, noting that President Rahmon had insisted on this at the last PDPT congress. He commented that political parties in Tajikistan were not proactive enough in contesting elections, but "thanks God we have independent media" which gave all parties and candidates public exposure.

THE OTHER CAMPAIGN - ROGHUN ¶4. (SBU)

Ubaidulloev said despite the low salaries of most Tajiks, they supported Roghun's construction, as they had suffered from the lack of electricity. He claimed the health, education, and cultural sectors did not contribute to Roghun, and all other contributions were voluntary. Ubaidulloev said wealthy businessmen were eager to buy shares of Roghun as it was a profitable investment.

CYBERCAFE, AMERICAN CORNER, AND EDUCATION

¶5. (SBU) Ambassador told the Mayor that the Dushanbe cybercafe, built by the city of Boulder, Colorado, as part of its sister-city relationship, still did not have water or power except for a few solar panels. These power some of the Internet computers, but were inadequate for the cafe's full operation. He asked the Mayor to help get water and power connected to the cafe. Ubaidulloev averred that he was hearing of this problem for the first time and said it would be no problem to connect power and water. (Note: the Cybercafe supervisor has raised these problems with the Mayor's office several times.)

¶6. (SBU) Ambassador then asked for Ubaidulloev's help to find a location for a second American Corner in Dushanbe. The Mayor quickly suggested that the cybercafe would be the ideal location for the American Corner since it was in a densely populated area of the city.

¶7. (SBU) Ubaidulloev said the parliament had declared 2010 the Year of Education. He raised his interest in seeing Tajik students attend U.S. universities, repeatedly mentioning Harvard DUSHANBE 00000082 002 OF 002 University as an example. The Tajik government and the administration of Dushanbe were ready to fund studies at Harvard, but needed the embassy's guidance on what training courses and level of English were required. Ambassador offered to put Ubaidulloev's staff in contact with Embassy Public Affairs staff to explore this issue.

¶8. (C) Comment: The Mayor has for long been a difficult, unpredictable, and sometimes hostile interlocutor. In deference to the Ambassador's language preference, Ubaidulloev spoke for the most part in Tajik, though he readily admitted that he would make many mistakes. His monologues confirmed this, and understanding him in Tajik was made doubly difficult by some of his nonsensical statements. Embassy staff have heard that the Mayor opposes unfettered public Internet access and has told city businesses and government agencies not to rent space for an American Corner if it involved Internet facilities. His quick suggestion that we colocate the American Corner in the cybercafe was unhelpful and in accord with our longstanding impressions of him. However, what we found most striking in this meeting was his strict adherence to obvious, and tired, lies about free elections, voluntary contributions to Roghun, and free media. A right painful 90 minutes. End Comment. GROSS

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