WiP: “Track III Dialogues and Conflict Resolution in Georgia”

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are pleased to announce the 2nd talk of the Fall 2023 Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series!

“Track III Dialogues and Conflict Resolution in Georgia”

Lucy Minicozzi-Wheeland, Harvard University

Wed, Oct 11, 2023

10:30-11:45am EDT or 6:30-7:45pm Tbilisi

The talk will take place in hybrid format in-person at CRRC Georgia and online through Zoom:: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMvcOmrqD8tHtTBnetK5uGun3tr1iYOM8qu

At the official level, conflict resolution in Georgia has more or less reached an impasse. With Russia to ensure their de facto status, Abkhazia and South Ossetia (referred to as Samachablo or the Tskhinvali Region in Georgia) have little reason to negotiate. Additionally, the official positions of Tbilisi and these two regions are so far apart that substantial compromise is extremely difficult. However, these confrontational positions are not always reflected at the societal level, especially among young people, who are eager for opportunities to engage with the other side. This research focuses on Track III dialogues and projects, which are often called grassroots or people-to-people projects, in the case of South Ossetia. Pulling together disparate sources of information in the absence of many continuing dialogues and projects, several stories emerge. First, there is the broader peacebuilding space where many projects have been cut off because NGOs have not been able to operate in South Ossetia since 2015. Second, there are the stories of those who used to participate at the Track II or unofficial level of dialogues before and just after the war in 2008, including former government officials and experts from both Tbilisi and Tskhinvali. Third, there is a real-life case of cooperation in the most difficult of circumstances: in the 1990s, after the first war in South Ossetia, Tskhinvali State University split and, along with its professors and students, fled and relocated to the campus of Gori State University. The two universities effectively cooperated, with Gori State University making room for its new neighbor, and professors and students integrating into the broader community in Gori. Lastly, there is a story of hope and potential for the future: Gori State University students who participated in dialogues, projects, and conferences with people from South Ossetia found the experience moving and had their perception of people on the other side change for the better. While these and many other projects have ended, the work of activists continues today, even in the absence of major donors and NGOs. The story of Track III dialogues and projects in the case of South Ossetia is one of tragedy, loss, hard work, and ultimately hope for the future, with the right resources and support.

Lucy Minicozzi-Wheeland is an American graduate student earning her master’s degree in Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies at Harvard. She has also been a Boren Fellow in Tbilisi for the last 10 months, intensively studying Russian, Ukrainian, and Georgian and conducting research related to her master’s thesis. Lucy primarily studies Ukraine and Georgia, with a focus on Russian warfare and occupation against both countries. She has spent a combined 19 months living in Ukraine and Georgia so far, with experience in NGOs, universities, and the media in both the U.S. and abroad.

Works-in-Progress is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place office of CRRC at Chavchavadze Ave. 5 and online. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.

In observation of the spirit of the Chatham House Rule, the talks will not be recorded, and we courteously request that the other participants refrain from recording and/or distributing recordings as well. The opinions expressed in WiP talks are those of the speakers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC, ARISC or of American Councils.