08TBILISI516, MEETING WITH UNION OF KURDS OF GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI516 2008-03-26 14:08 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0516/01 0861408
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261408Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9178

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000516 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH UNION OF KURDS OF GEORGIA 
 
Classified By: CDA, a.i., Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
 1. (SBU) On 25 March 2008, Poloff met with Vitali Nabiev 
(Anqosi), chairman of the NGO Union of Kurds of Georgia. 
Nabiev's organization represents the Georgian Kurdish 
Diaspora in Tbilisi (about 30,000 people mainly in the 
capital whom he described as Yesids) and Iraqi Kurds in 
Kurdistan.  His purpose in meeting U.S. Embassy contacts was 
to thank them for assistance to Kurds in Iraq and to promote 
more dialogue and interaction with younger Kurds who have a 
positive impression of the West, but so far have knowledge 
only of the East (Russia.)  He voiced few concerns, although 
religious freedom and updating the national registry to 
include traditional Kurdish family names were discussed.  End 
Summary. 
 
------------------------- 
Union of Kurds of Georgia 
------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  Nabiev's organization, which was formed about a 
year ago, is one of approximately eight organizations in 
Georgia which represent Kurd interests.  The Kurdish have 
been present in Georgia for centuries, many of them 
emigrating from Georgia to Russia in the last years for 
employment reasons.  The Kurdish Diaspora primarily live in 
Tbilisi (90%), with the remainder sprinkled liberally 
throughout Georgia in lesser numbers.  Nabiev said his 
organization, which employs five people (men and women), 
represents many younger Kurds.   His primary goal in 
establishing contact is to expand dialogue with the West, as 
many Kurds have positive impressions of the U.S., but have 
traditionally only known the East (Russia).   In his opinion, 
there is no dialogue currently between the U.S. Embassy and 
the Kurdish community.  Nabiev described his organization as 
active, sitting on committees for minorities and religious 
freedom within the Public Defender's Office, and working 
positively to represent its constituents.  Nabiev said that 
he firmly believed that he needs to work with the authorities 
to resolve issues, before bringing them to the attention of 
the international community. 
 
----------------------------- 
What are the Kurds' concerns? 
----------------------------- 
 
3.  (SBU)  Nabiev seemed reluctant to delve into too much 
detail about concerns, only mentioning the first and second 
items from the list below.  According to the Public 
Defender's website, Kurds' principal concerns are: 
 
-- Adequate allocation of broadcasting time for Kurdish 
programming on television and radio 
-- Registration of Kurds traditional surnames in the public 
registry 
-- Problem of learning the mother tongue 
-- Preservation of Kurdish culture, language, and religion 
 
----------- 
Yesid Faith 
----------- 
 
4.  (SBU)  Nabiev said that there is no temple outside of 
Iraqi Kurdistan for those of the Yesid faith to pray. 
(Comment:  Yesid is a religion closely associated with the 
Zoroastrian faith.)  His organization had recently met with 
the mayor of Tbilisi about finding an acceptable location to 
build such a structure, but no solution had resulted. 
According to the Public Defender's web site, the Kurd 
Diaspora has applied to the state several times for land upon 
which to construct a religious building.  The Head of 
Property Management Service of Tbilisi, Pikria Ugrekhelidze, 
has promised the Kurds to help find a location which would be 
appropriate.  Nabiev added that the Kurd community is "trying 
to be careful not to irritate the Mayor of Tbilisi" and has 
assured local officials that practitioners of the Yesid faith 
would not be proselytizing in order to allay any perception 
that the religion is threatening to the prevailing Georgian 
Orthodox religion. 
 
----------------------------- 
Kurdish Names in the Registry 
----------------------------- 
 
5.  (SBU)  Members of the Kurd Diaspora met with 
representatives of the Civil Registry Office (Ministry of 
Justice) about updating registry records to permit the return 
of historical Kurd surnames.  (Comment:  Nabiev's historical 
Kurdish surname is Anqosi.)  Nabiev gave two reasons for 
wanting the updates.  First, it is important to regain family 
names, but secondly, there are practical implications.  For 
example, some Kurds have Armenian sounding names, which 
prevent them traveling easily to Azerbaijan and other areas 
for work.  Previously the process for changing a name in the 
public registry required a certificate from the Special 
Commission of Ethnography which did a family genealogical 
search to verify lineage.  This commission no longer exists. 
Therefore, no names can be updated in the registry. 
According to Nabiev a special law is necessary to address the 
issue.  The Public Defender has promised to find a solution 
to the issue through cooperation with the Ethnographic 
Institute. 
 
---------- 
Mass Media 
---------- 
 
6.  (SBU)  Nabiev, a journalist and native Georgian speaker, 
did not seem overly concerned about lack of media coverage in 
the Kurdish language.  He said that currently public radio 
carries 10 minutes of Kurdish language
programming a week, 
and until recently he himself helped publish a newspaper in 
Russian, Georgian and Kurdish.  Nabiev plans to resume this 
service again soon.  He was hopeful that the pending 
appointment of a new director of public television would soon 
permit more frequent Kurdish language programming. 
 
-------------- 
Other Contacts 
-------------- 
 
7.  (SBU)  Nabiev has well-entrenched contacts with the 
Russian Embassy.  He explained many Kurds currently reside in 
Russia and experience difficulties after communications and 
travel links between Georgia and Russia were severed. Nabiev 
has lobbied on behalf of these Kurds to the Russian Embassy. 
 Nabiev planned to establish contact with the British Embassy 
to thank them for their assistance in Iraq and expressed 
regret that there is no South Korean Embassy in Tbilisi so he 
could do the same.  (Comment:  The Republic of Korea Zaytun 
Peace and Reconstruction Division has been present in Erbil, 
Kurdistan, since 2004.  According to recent survey results 
listed on the Kurdistan Regional Government web site more 
than 80% of the people in Erbil would like the Koreans to 
extend their stay.  End comment.) 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
8.  (C)  Nabiev was quick to establish up front that he was 
not meeting with Poloff to air a list of concerns or ask for 
grants.  His primary reason was to establish more regular 
contact and dialogue.  Poloff agreed to put him in contact 
with the Embassy's Public Affairs Section to get information 
on cultural and educational opportunities, offered to meet 
with representatives from the Kurdish Diaspora to learn of 
religious or minority discrimination issues, and welcomed 
meetings with members of the Kurdish community in outlying 
regions when Embassy officers are traveling in Georgia. 
PERRY

Wikileaks

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