THE MAIN DIRECTIONS OF
of the International Circassian Association (ICA)
By the will of the destiny Adyghe and Abkhaz-Abaza peoples were scattered in many countries of the world.
The places of more compact habitation of the Adyghes now are: Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Germany, USA, Israel, Netherlands and other countries.
700 thousand Adyghes reside at present in the location of their historic homeland (Northern and Western Caucasus). Here they have their State formations: Republic of Adygeya, Kabardin-Balkar Republic, Karachay-Circassian Republic. Considerable number of Adyghes live in Shapsughia, Mozdok, Uspen region of Krasnodar province and other areas of Russia.
Abkhaz people leave in Abkhazia (more than 100 thousand people). Now Republic of Abkhazia is “a sovereign democratic, legal state” according to its constitution. It is confirmed by people of Abkhazia on the referendum in 1999 by the statement about start independence of Abkhazia, and accepting of Abkhazia as sovereign state by the number of countries.
The tragedy of Adyghe people, which resulted in massive exodus, has its concrete manifestations, concrete reasons and results, moreover, it has its concrete authors and performers. And they must be named personally.
International Circassian Association commenced the preparation to actions, devoted to the 150th anniversary of the termination of the Russian - Caucasian War of 19th century and ICA is positive, that now the time is ripe to put correct historical accents and to call the true reasons of the Adyghe nation tragedy.
The analysis of archive historic material, the scientific works of well-known Russian and foreign scientists provide basis for the conclusion, that the main reason which made larger part of the Adyghe people appear in foreign countries was the bloodshed of Russian-Caucasian War of 19th century, and also:
-colonial policy of the Czarist Russia in the Caucasus;
-geopolitical interests of such countries as Osman Empire and England in this area and large scale political intrigues, connected with those interests; -activity of Moslem clergy, targeted on transmigration to the so-called «moslem countries»;
-inconsequential and uncoordinated actions, ambitions and claims to superiority of most of Adyghe nobles.
These are the reasons, which together resulted in the great tragedy of Adyghe people in 19th century. We must stress, that later political cataclysms in Russia (revolutions, civil war and second word war) also resulted in departure of some part of Adyghe people abroad in 20th century (though not so significant as in the previous one).
These circumstances brought Adyghes on the brink of extinction as a nation. The natural process of assimilation, of dissolution of a smaller Adyghe nation in a larger one - be it Turkish, Arabic, English or German-speaking surrounding.
The hardships of those, who managed to reach Turkish shores were only beginning. Some of the Adyghes had to suffer second and third muhajeering, because they were accommodated in the areas with bad climatic conditions, in frontier provinces, or because their new habitat happened to be in the zone of the military actions and occupied by the enemy.
But in spite of all these hardships, the Adyghes abroad demonstrated the greatness and the strength of Adyghe spirit, unbending will and desire to preserve their national identity, their native language (Adyghebze) and their culture and tradition («Adyghe habze»).
Whichever country they happened to dwell in abroad, they preserved their dignity and honor, they enjoy trust and confidence of the authorities and people they live with, sharing equally all hardship and labor with their «second motherland».
This can be proved by many examples of immigrant Adyghes being appointed to the high positions in the Government and elected to the Legislative bodies of their immigration countries. They occupy high posts in the Armed Forces, police, and other responsible and sensitive
positions. They contribute to the scientific research, education, cultural life of those countries where they live to-day. It is obvious, that the leaders of those countries and the people, who accepted our compatriots and extended to them feelings of understanding and trust, deserve our sincere words of gratitude.
But this does not make the memories about their ethnic homeland fade from the memory of our compatriots. Neither they forget about belonging to the Adyghe nation, with the necessity to teach their children their native language and traditions as well as the language of the country of their present residence and foreign languages.
It is hard to withstand assimilation, to postpone its implacable progress. To deal with this problem our compatriots created Circassian cultural and charitable associations (Khase).
From the very first days after the dispersion of our nation in the world the patriots among the Adyghe nation dreamt one dream, labored towards one aim: to reunite the nation and to return it to the homeland.
Great was the importance of these organizations, Khase, to withstand the assimilation processes in the foreign Circassian communities, beginning from 1900. Adyghe leaders in diaspora, who organized Khases, implemented marvelous steps to preservation and resurrection of our people. Steps, which some people do not understand completely even nowadays. They created Adyghe alphabet, printed books using this alphabet. They have instituted educational establishments, where teaching was in Adyghe language. They printed newspapers in native tongue. This list may be continued, but the most wise and most courageous of their exploits - was the understanding, that the Circassians can not survive abroad as a nation, that the very existence of this nation is possible only in the historical homeland. This idea they tried to disseminate in the masses of Adyghes. They understood, that only the homeland will be able to cope with the problem of repatriation, only those who stayed at home will help the exiles to return. Thus they came to the conclusion, that all their efforts must be directed to their historic homeland. To help those, who stayed at home to kindle the fire in fraternal fireplace, to work for repatriation, those who were ready returned home from abroad and established the first ties between the diaspora and the motherland. And now, after so many years have passed and we acquired so much freedom and new possibilities, few Adyghes realize the ideas of «Pathfinders to homeland across the seas». This fact makes their achievements even more prominent.
We must bow to the memory of those, who were the initiators of foreign Adyghe societies, those who continued their deed, and extend our gratitude to those who labor now to preserve Adyghe nation from assimilation, heeding not their time and strength. We must express our gratitude to all those who organized «A North-Caucasian Culture Week» in Ankara, Turkey, in 1989, dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the termination of the Russian-Caucasian War of 19th century. Representatives of all North-Caucasian republics participated in these festivities alongside with the Adyghe societies from Syria, Jordan, Germany and different regions of Turkey. The participants of this North Caucasian Culture Week issued an Appeal addressed to the leaders of the world, to politicians, scientists, writers, to all nations, which said:
- let us build a world of trust and brotherhood among the peoples where the wind of peace will blow away the word of war from all the languages;
- let us preserve and develop cultural traditions of all the nations in that world, without separation of nations, big or small;
- nobody in that world will be accused for his thoughts and beliefs;
- nobody in that world will interfere with people desiring to indulge in native language or native tradition;
- no nation will be made to leave its homeland for whatever reason.
Similar action was undertaken in Jordan under the auspices of King Hussein Ben Talal in 1991, with positive effect for establishment of International Circassian Association.
We also must pay tribute to those Adyghes, living in Netherlands, who in 1990 gathered the representatives from «Adyghe Khase» and «Motherland» Society of Kabardin-Balkaria, from Circassian Societies of America, Germany, Turkey (61 delegates) and proposed for the first time in our history the idea of international Circassian organization to deal with the problems of Adyghe nation. Withstanding assimilation was the first and utmost of them all.
Since the organizers of this meeting did not present any program or other materials besides the idea of association itself, it was decided, after an exchange of opinions, to meet after proper preparations in Nalchik, KBR during the next year with the aim to found the International Circassian Association.
To-day we may differ in selecting the right initial point in the creation of ICA. The opinions differ. But majority consider active participation of the representatives of the historic homeland, public and government bodies of the North Caucasus to be crucial in this process of creation!
When we speak of the hard destiny of muhajeers, we must in all fairness agree that the living conditions of those Adyghe families, which stayed at home were not much better.
Caught between the grindstones of revolutions, civil and world wars, they suffered together with the Russian and o ther peoples of USSR
monstrous repression, hunger and devastation. But at the same time they knew the joy of the creative labor, they retained their land, they found new forms of a State formation, they preserved their mother-tongue, Adyghe folk culture, they made great progress in science and education.
Those representatives of the ethnic homeland who found their relatives abroad, established ties with them and found means and ways to invite and receive them at home, to acquaint them with the way of life of their compatriots, and who organized their repatriation using governmental structures deserve our utmost gratitude.
Like foreign Adyghes, they enjoy trust and prestige in their country, their representatives are appointed to high governmental posts and elected to high legislative bodies.
We must be fair! When we denounce the wrongdoing of the communist or soviet formation, we must acknowledge that due to the policy of support of national minorities the Adyghe nation was saved from extinction and, moreover, Adyghes got their own States.
Of course, the Stalinist «divide and rule» policy has separated the territory of Adyghe nation, including it as parts into different
administrative - territorial formations with the aim to speed up assimilation of this nation into Russia.
Hence the importance of meetings of Adyghe nation representatives in Turkey (1989), Netherlands (1990), Jordan (1991) - these meetings demonstrated the common understanding of the danger of assimilation, to which Adyghes are exposed abroad.
In the Appeal, which was published during the «Week of culture, dedicated to the 125th anniversary of deportation» in Ankara, clear is the understanding that the Adyghe nation can solve the problems facing it only together with those people who live in the historic homeland, who preserved native language, traditions of «Adyghe habze» and who have their own State formations.
After the meeting of the foreign Circassian diaspora with the brothers from North Caucasian republics came the understanding, that though the Adyghes live in the different countries, they must try to achieve consensus, they must develop cooperation and support each other. We must firmly announce, that Adyghes do not strive to form one common state, and that must not be our aim. We must try to reunite as a nation, living in different countries.
Representatives of the Adyghe diaspora abroad, and those who live in the homeland clearly understand that the reason of all the misfortunes Adyghes had to suffer in the past and suffer now, was the devastating war, inspired by the Czar, and the deportation to Osman Empire that followed (not without the indulgence of the latter). But there is an understanding, that the nations can not live in perpetual hostility. All the nations in this world fought some other nation and had an enemy sometime in the past. But even those nations, which waged centennial wars with each other find a way to agreement and unity. That is why it is important to come to the understanding with the Russians and with other peoples among which we live. As Adyghes in our homeland came to the realization that the destiny of the Russian federation is our destiny, so our compatriots abroad must realize that their destiny is one with countries where they dwell now. There is an understanding, that with the strengthening of the principles of federalism and democracy in Russia this country will strengthen. Our brotherhood with the compatriots and our ties will strengthen. The more freedom Adyghes will have in their homeland, the stronger will be the support of interest of Russian Federation by the Adyghes, living in many countries abroad. The help, which was rendered by Russian Federation to repatriate Kosovo circassians is a pleasing proof that there are many people in Russia recognizing the above principle.
This understanding, together with the process of democratization in Russia actuated the process of repatriation. Those who were not scared of the hardships and decided to share with the homeland all joys and woes, returning to historic homeland.
But our heart aches because only insignificant part of our compatriots followed this path in spite of existing favorable conditions.
For the last 20 years 3 thousand compatriots returned to historic homeland in Kabardin-Balkarian Republic, Republic of Adygheya and Karachai-Circassian Republic.We must give realistic estimation of the reasons for this situation. Here we must declare how the International Circassian Association sees this problem.
It is natural that more territorially divided nation faces more dangers of assimilation since it has no possibilities to concentrate judicial, finance, creative and other powers on its cultural and educational programs. It cannot have national schools, theaters or publish necessary quantities of schoolbooks of proper quality in their national language, maintain folk ensembles and other artistic troops, provide for scientific research activities to establish its true history or develop mother-tongue.
It is quite natural that the possibilities for upbringing of younger generation in the traditions of «Adyghe habze» also diminish. The youngsters more and more are subject to the negative influence of the surrounding environment, acquiring bad inclinations and habits. These complex problems face those who live abroad or in the historic homeland.
But it is clear to anyone that it is much more difficult to survive as a nation living abroad, or, to be honest - it is impossible !
This is proved by the experience of the mameleuks, who managed to establish their own State, but failed to remain in existence as an ethnic unity and were dissolved in the alien mass.
True, the idea of repatriation or unification of the nation in the historic homeland may be perceived as an attractive national idea and efforts may be undertaken to realize it. But we always must estimate the real possibilities of implementation of this idea into life. The practice shows that it can not be done swift and easy. We must acknowledge that it is a complex and tedious process, requiring understanding not only by leaders, but by the separate population groups. It also requires certain historic conditions and coordinated efforts from all sides.
To our regret, nowadays this situation may be characterized by the following relation of the sides to the repatriation process: «Let them return, why don’t they?» ask those living in motherland. «Let them take us home, why don’t they?» ask our compatriots living abroad. Those living in homeland want the compatriots abroad to solve their own problems without any disturbance to themselves. The foreign compatriots wait when all problems in their homeland will be solved and the country will grow rich and beautiful. Also without any disturbance to themselves!
Such attitude to the problem of repatriation will not help to solve it. We must change our mentality, set a long-term program of repatriation support.
The International Circassian Association does not have a rapid solution to the problem of repatriation either. More, we never aimed at returning all Adyghes to the homeland at once. From the very beginning the Association earmarked the aim to provide assistance to those who decided to return permanently to the land of ancestors, to help them adapt to the new conditions. This is the reason for accepting laws of KBR and Adygheya «On Repatriates». These laws do not have massive financial support, but all possible help is rendered to those who return.
Those who can not repatriate to-day, must feel that they have their motherland. This motherland is Russian Federation, Northern Caucasus!
Relations should be consolidated with this homeland, economic, science, cultural cooperation fostered. Information should be exchanged, children must be sent there for education and recreation. This homeland may help with mother-tongue teaching, young generation upbringing in the traditions of «Adyghe habze».
All these proposals are clearly defined in the ICA Charter which was approved by the Founding Congress in May, 1991.
The Charter has an article stating that Nalchik, capital city of Kabardin-Balkar Republic, is the seat of Executive Committee of International Circassian Association. That is a clear sign of the proper understanding of the fact, that the time is ripe for all Adyghes to turn to their historic homeland. Temporary branch headquarters of ICA may be founded elsewhere.
The Charter of the ICA has undergone several amendments, but they did not concern the aims and tasks of the organization, which bear program importance.
The Charter defines the aims of the ICA as follows:
- consolidation of efforts and coordination of activities of the Circassian public societies - members of ICA which assist the rebirth and development of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Circassian people, preservation of its national distinction, reconstruction of true history of the Circassians;
- assistance in solving economic, social, cultural and religious problems facing Circassian nation;
- Assistance in creation of conditions favorable for unification of the Circassians and furthering connections of the Circassian diaspora with the historic homeland;
- representation in the courts of law, assistance in defense of economic, social, and other rights of ICA members;
- assistance in enforcement of peace, friendship and consent between nations, prevention of social, national and other conflicts.
It is also stated, that ICA serves to fulfill following tasks:
- ICA organizes and conducts scientific research projects on economics, law, history, culture, education, demography, and other problems, relating to development of the Circassian nation;
- assists spiritual and cultural development of Circassians;
- assists in learning of mother-tongue, in creation of uniform Circassian literary language;
- assists in return of Circassian cultural and historic valuables to the historic homeland;
- assists in collection of manuscripts, dedicated to Circassians with the aim to create a special ICA library;
- assists in reestablishment of family ties, furthering of contacts between Circassians living in different countries of the world, especially between teenagers and youngsters;
- assists those Circassians who wish to return to the historic homeland in accordance with the lawful procedures.
All 18 years of ICA existence the organization faced this aims and tasks.
One way or another, with different levels of activity according to situation and active position of the Executive Committee members, ICA tried to reach these aims and fulfill these tasks.
We cannot say that nothing is achieved. Efforts were not spared in all these directions, homeland and abroad. Some results were achieved. But it is obvious, that the problems of Adyghes are not simple, they formed during different historic periods, taking centuries, and they cannot be solved uniformly and completely by efforts of one term of Executive Committee in so short a period of allocated time.
The Executive Committee members of one term transfer to the officers of other term all positive achievements and all problems, connected with the mistakes made during their term of office.
We must acknowledge that some members of the ICA Executive Committee were too politicized, and it enabled the enemies of ICA to label it nationalistic, separatist, trying to reconstruct «Great Circassia» and to get out of Russian Federation, etc. Though we always stated that Adyghes were not striving to create a united State and this must not be our aim now. Living in different countries, we must achieve the unification as a nation.
Not always the Association could prove its international status documentary. Some of us had wrong understanding of Khase principle.
Now most of these problems are nonexistent!
Today we clearly state, that ICA is not dealing in politics, it does not undertake any actions which are contrary to the Laws of Russian Federation and of those countries, where branches of ICA - Circassian public organizations (Khase) operate.
The Association cannot be employed in the struggle for power or to be used to bring to power a certain person or a group of persons.
If by any chance any public organization-member of ICA in any region of the world will have to join politics, the leaders of this member of ICA must terminate membership of this body in International Circassian Association, form a proper political party and then take part in the political struggle.
The international status of Association was properly acknowledged by governmental bodies of several countries when the Charter of the organization was amended. The International Circassian Association was reloged by the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation without any remarks in March of 2006.
The Executive Committee, elected by 8th Congress of ICA, consists of people compatible by their nature, with deep understanding of Adyghe problem.
Reconstruction and repair works of International Circassian Executive Committee offices are nearly completed. These offices are granted to ICA by KBR authorities and Nalchik municipal administration free of charge and for permanent use.
Important tasks, which ICA is facing, may be solved in future with calm and determination, finding legal and financial ways to deal with them, increasing understanding in the Adyghe environment in the historic
homeland and abroad, using the great potential of our scientists and creative intelligentsia, encouraging love for the historic homeland and active position in Adyghe younger generation. In the history of every nation there are transition periods defining the nations destiny and when
people having governmental powers can do utmost good for their nation. This time is such a time for the Adyghe nation and it is very important, that every Adyghe promoted to high social position and well educated, had a heartfelt responsibility for the future of Adyghe nation, for preservation and development of our native language and cultural heritage, for bringing up our young generation in the traditions of «Adyghe habze».
This is a field of action for all public associations, joining the International Circassian Association.
Executive Committee considers it expedient to propose to the ICA Council for approval following perspective program of activity of International Circassian Association. This program is not a dogma. Amendments may be made according to the changes in the world situation and appearance of new aims. But today the Executive Committee considers the following practical tasks to be uppermost for Adyghes living in historic motherland or abroad:
- To interact with authorities of Kabardin-Balkar Republic, Republic of Adygheya to develop and accept effective Governmental Programs to support the compatriots, who returned to the historic homeland in accordance with the Laws of these republics «On Repatriates»; contact the authorities of Karachay-Circassian Republic to discuss the possibility of such Law to be adopted;
- To define real possibilities to allocate land lots to the families of repatriated compatriots in the rural areas of KBR, KCR, RA. Together with the leaders of ICA member associations provide probable repatriates with this information.
- Since the new Law «On the Russian Federation Citizenship» demands knowledge of the Russian language by the repatriates, that limits possibilities of our foreign compatriots to request again the President of RF and State Duma with suggestion to solve the question of citizenship of our compatriots, who return to their historic motherland and master their mother tongue positively. To request Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RF to improve the level of effectiveness of Russian language schools of Russian Embassy Culture Centers in countries with Adyghe diaspora.
- To initiate Repatriate Assistance Commissions to be formed within the Governments of KBR, KCR, RA with the ICA Executive Committee and local Adyghe Khase representatives included.
- To assist repatriates with education of their children in primary schools in the place of dwelling and their privileged entrance to the colleges and high educational establishments of KBR, KCR, RA.
- To study the problems connected with the financial support of training young representatives of Adyghe diaspora from Turkey, Syria, Jordan in colleges, institutes and universities of the above mentioned republics.
- To help the repatriates to process all the necessary documents according to the new RF Law «On Repatriates» and new instructions for Resident Identity Card and acquisition of citizenship.
- To prolong caring out of the date «Repatriate’s Day» in the Republics; conduct annual meetings of the authorities of the Republics and ICA Executive Committee with the compatriot repatriates;
- To commemorate the «19th century Russian-Caucasian War Victims Day» on 21st of May annually. To complete construction of scheduled memorials by the 150th anniversary of that day.
- To initiate the development and adoption of a new RF Law «On measures to overcome the consequences of 19th century Russian-Caucasian War» and a special RF Governmental program to that effect.
- To re-commence activities of the Inter-parliamentary Council of the three republics (KBR, KCR, RA) or to form Coordination Council consisting of members of Parliaments of Adyghe nationality.
- To assist youth and children tourist groups of our compatriots to visit Northern Caucasus for strengthening the ties of Adyghe diaspora with the historic homeland. To conduct folk festivals, concerts of Circassian artistic troops, joint sports events. To continue efforts for organization of regular airline communication of our Republics with the countries where Adyghes reside.
- To practice «round table discussions», conferences, exhibitions and fairs in which compatriot businessmen and representatives of North Caucasus business circles will participate.
- To inform compatriots on new investment programs in our Republics, on any changes in Tax and Customs regulations of RF.
- To continue the practice of fraternization between the cities of the Northern Caucasus and those where Adyghes reside abroad.
- To study the possibilities of modern computer technologies and satellite communication for TV broadcast to the countries with Circassian diaspora with the aim of scientific and informational exchange and distance teaching of the native language.
- To find financial possibility to print educational books and works of fiction, to shoot cartoons in national language for the children of compatriots living abroad.
- For preservation of national cultural heritage, to record ancient Adyghe songs, now stored in the archive funds of State KBR TV and Radio Committee and abroad, on modern media files. Old musical recordings to be restored and rewritten using modern musical symbols.
- To complete unification of the Adyghe alphabet and adoption of unified literary language. To develop measures for unification of training programs of faculties of Adyghe philology in high educational establishments of KBR, KCR, RA.
- In cooperation with the Ministries of Education of our Republics elevate the level of teaching of native language in the schools, development and publication of streamlined schoolbooks of Adyghe language. To organize contests and competitions among the schoolchildren to stimulate the interest in native language.
- To foster the practice of national languages, which have the status of «state language».To encourage their usage in spelling the names of the cities, towns and villages, streets and government bodies of KBR, KCR, RA.
- Since the competence of the work on «Adyghe Encyclopedia» and «History of Caucasus», translate them and publish abroad.
- To continue collection of archive materials dedicated to the history of Circassians, works of fiction of Adyghe authors published abroad, Adyghe magazines for safekeeping in the ICA library.
- To stimulate birthrate for overcoming negative demographic trends, finding financial means for support of families with many children by grants and bonuses.
- To restore the work of Internet site and to place weekly information bulletins, reflecting important events in politics, economy and culture in ethnic homeland on the Internet site of ICA.
- To use Internet page of «Adyghe Psahle» newspaper as an informational channel for the compatriots abroad.
- To assist sending of scientific expeditions abroad to collect scientific information in the archives of countries of residence of Adyghes. To practice organization of meetings of scientists, writers, musicians for information exchange and for cooperation in solving the problems facing Adyghe people.
For realization of aims and tasks listed in ICA Charter to cooperate with the Governmental structures of Russian Federation, with international organizations, humanitarian institutions and funds.
Relations of ICA with the International association of Abkhaz-Abazin people and cooperation with our fraternal Abkhaz people deserve a separate description.
From the first day of the foundation of the International Circassian Association the Abkhazs are its full-fledged members. And from that very first day there were doubts about practicability of such form of cooperation. Different variants were proposed where Adyghes and Abkhazs solved their own problems of language, culture, repatriation separately, but cooperating and supporting each other in a difficulty.
But Foundation Congress of ICA in May of 1991, taking into
consideration the situation in Georgia, decided to accept Abkhazia into the Association to demonstrate the unity of Adyghe and Abkhaz nations.
Further development of the situation proved the rightness of that decision.
Two peoples have very similar destinies, face similar problems, connected with the fact that majority of each nation is living abroad.
When International Association of Abkhaz-Abazin People was founded, again some proposals were made for each organization to solve its own problems.
But today we are still together, and most of our actions planned are still actual for our brothers Abkhazs and Abazins. We will solve the problems we face together.