Maxim Gvindzhia
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia. Abkhazia.

Speaking of my country, many people often refer to its past. Usually, researchers write about Soviet times, about decades of struggle for self-determination and rights. The history and aspects of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict have become the subject of study by many prominent researchers, politicians and scholars, as well as propagandists and liars. Despite its small size, my country has always remained where it is. We have been part of many great and already vanished empires. I often think about what gives us the opportunity to survive for many centuries. We have always suffered when the giants clashed and may have been able to develop immunity to the challenges of the time.

However, returning to the history of Abkhazia, I always noticed special moments that today can be called “advanced” or progressive thinking. At a time when many peoples remained pagans, Christianity was already adopted in Abkhazia. When the slave-trade flourished in the western hemisphere, representatives of other races became equal members of our society. Abkhazia often became the homeland for representatives of different peoples who came here as a result of persecution, famine, and wars.

In other words, Abkhazia, even in the Middle Ages, was much more democratic than those who have usurped the concept of "democracy" today.

Looking back at the past, one can imagine what challenges await us in the future, because the cyclical nature of history is obvious.

But, has Abkhazia retained this hidden potential to accept the new demands of the time? How ready are we for the "advanced" approach? The blows of the past are deeply embedded in our consciousness, and we are often afraid of everything new, we are afraid of dissolving and disappearing. But it is this fear that can help us take a step into the future. Let us move to “advanced” development.

From the point of view of futurology, extrapolating modern technical and social trends in the world and global processes, we can say that the future of the world-economy and social life belongs to mega-cities and small countries. A kind of return to ancient times, when big cities and small states became centres of trade and knowledge-exchange. However, “tomorrow” is no longer the same as in antiquity. In our time, the word “tomorrow” has acquired the meaning of the present, something that is happening today or has already happened.

I suggest that we look together into the future of Abkhazia for at least 50 years:

A favourable climate and nature are an integral part of the culture and lifestyle of the Abkhazians. Consequently, the "green" direction of the development of our state is the same priority of national security as the preservation of our identity. In 50 years, almost all road transport in Abkhazia will be electric. The abundance of hydro-resources and new technologies will allow us to use green energy at 100%. Humid subtropical climate, soft laws, and easy-going life will attract more and more immigrants, both permanent and temporary. It is possible that a large number of pensioners from Europe will choose Abkhazia as a place for permanent residence, which will create a new labour market and attract more guest workers not only from Central but also Southeast Asia. The Western financial system is no longer reliable – your money can be confiscated merely because of holding the citizenship of a particular country. Perhaps immigrants from other countries will also want to keep their money closer, and Abkhazia will become a financial resort. All these factors will contribute to the development of the state and the growth of living standards. The development of regional infrastructure will open up new opportunities and jobs. Close and active trade-ties in the region will be the basis for stability. People will be able to travel freely, get an education and simply LIVE.

Such a prospect for Abkhazia is impossible without sustainable peace in the region. Not only a peace-agreement between Abkhazia and Georgia, but also between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the key to such a future. Strong friendship and cooperation between Russia and Turkey is a platform on which to build long-term prospects. Iran plays an equally significant role here. The future of successful economic development for the Caucasus will depend on access to the Middle East and Asia.

The perspectives described above are reminiscent of John Lennon's utopian song “Imagine”. However, is it possible to imagine that anyone in the Caucasus would oppose this? The Caucasus is very large, despite its small size. The Caucasus is Abkhazia, and Azerbaijan, and Armenia, and Georgia, and Karabakh, and the Russian Federation, and Turkey, and South Ossetia.

As mentioned earlier, tomorrow is now. The time has come to put real flesh on the bones of aspirations to achieve a peaceful Caucasus. This idea can be realised through the adoption of a multilateral declaration to commit to a "Peaceful Neighbourhood". The place of signing of such a Declaration could be Tehran. The text could look something like this: “We, the representatives of the peoples of the Caucasus, despite the existing disagreements and unresolved disputes between us, express our commitment to the peaceful resolution of existing conflicts based on the principles and concepts of a peaceful neighbourhood”.

The Declaration of such a "Peaceful Neighborhood" should be prepared without intermediaries. We ourselves, the participants in its signing, will agree on all the terms and details.

I understand the smile on your face, but in order to break the cycle of history, such bold decisions are needed. Such are the “advanced” decisions that proved to be life-changing for our states many centuries ago.