The Official Website of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia > Articles > ABKHAZIA IN THE MODERN DAYS. WHAT TO DO? (PART V) ARCHIMANDRITE DOROTHEOS DBAR

ABKHAZIA IN THE MODERN DAYS. WHAT TO DO? (PART V) ARCHIMANDRITE DOROTHEOS DBAR

ABKHAZIA IN THE MODERN DAYS. WHAT TO DO? (Part V)

HUMAN RESOURCES AND MANAGEMENT

At the beginning I would like to talk about some problems which exist in most countries of the world.

First, professional specialists are in short supply everywhere, including Abkhazia. Secondly, even if there are professional and talented people in the country, there is a more difficult task – to involve them in management. Moreover, there are always a lot of people who want to occupy administrative posts (but they are a completely different category of people), and no less those ones who do not want to lose the political power. Once, our compatriot Fazil Iskander (1929–2016) said: “Power is such a thing, which no one voluntarily wants to leave.” And finally it often occurs that the well-educated and professionally trained specialists who came to power, unfortunately, don’t have a reasonable approach to manage. Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–1944) said: “the government must first of all be reasonable. If you lead your people into the sea, they will make a revolution.”

In IV century St. Gregory the Theologian said: “to rule the most cunning and changeable animals is truly an art of the arts and a science of the sciences.” We should always remember this thing, when we, as usual accusing the rulers, idealize the people! It should be remembered that to rule the Abkhaz people is twice difficult. When the famous Greek politician of XX century Konstantinos Karamanlis (1907–1998) was told the time of Winston Churchill’s rule (1874–1965) was an example of proper governance, smiling, he replied: “Do not forget that Churchill ruled the British!”

Reducing the number of government agencies and employees 

According to official data, 42,313 people are employed in the economy of Abkhazia, 18,166 of them are employed in the field of public administration, i.e. 42.93% of the total number of employees are civil servants at various levels. Fantastic number for a small country! In addition, the structure of our current government includes 15 ministries, 8 state committees, 10 departments with the status of central government bodies. At the same time, there are about 140,000 working-age people in the country, about 40 thousand people officially work.

Maybe I don’t understand something, but why should our state have these three independent structures: the State Committee on Ecology and Nature Protection, the State Forestry Administration and the State Plant Quarantine Inspectorate ?! And why should we spend budget money for the life-long security of ex-presidents?!

The above statistics show that, on the one hand, the state machinery of our country works exclusively on its own benefit. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the working-age population also work exclusively “for themselves”, skillfully hiding (often with their employers) state revenues. So what kind of state building with this approach can we talk about ?!

I am absolutely convinced that if we do not reduce the incredibly bloated staff of civil servants and will not make employers to hire people officially, with the payment of appropriate taxes, we can have no future.

The main reason (besides corruption) of the recent economic crisis in Greece, which I observed while living there, was an incredible increase in the number of civil servants in the last quarter of 20 century. The two ruling parties of that time — the republicans and the socialists — in order to get votes at the elections, accepted everyone for the public service. A way out of the crisis became possible only after the implementation of the main requirement of the leadership of the European Union: the total reduction of civil servants of the Hellenic Republic!I am convinced that we have no future if we don’t follow the example of Greece.

Change of government structure

 Today, the Cabinet of Ministers (Government) of the Republic of Abkhazia is headed by the Prime Minister and three Deputy Prime Ministers, and the Government, as I noted above, consists of 15 ministries, 8 state committees and 10 other departments with the status of state administration. Surely this structure should be reduced. In our conditions, one prime minister, one deputy prime minister and nine ministries are enough. In addition, without exception, all state committees and other government bodies should be abolished, and their functions transferred to the relevant ministries.

The merger of the current ministries, committees and departments seems to me as follows:

  1. To unite the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the State Security Service and the State Migration Service into the Ministry of Public Security. In addition, this ministry should include the State Committee on Ecology and Conservation of Nature, the State Forestry Administration, the State Veterinary Service and the State Plant Quarantine Inspectorate, converted into The State Courier Service. From the above structures (including the prosecutor’s office), abolish the investigating authorities, convert them into an independent separate structure.
  2. The National Investigation Service, formed of the relevant investigative services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Security Service and the Prosecutor Office.
  3. Ministry of Defense.
  4. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be merged with the Ministry of Repatriation.
  5. The Ministry of Economy should be merged with the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security. In addition, the State Customs Committee, the State Administration of Transport and the State Administration of Communications and Mass Communications should be included in the Ministry of Economy. Land Management, Finance and Pension Fund also logically fit into the competence of the Ministry.
  6. The Ministry of Tourism should be merged with the Ministry of Agriculture. I will explain this сombination because it may seems strange to someone. Exporting Abkhaz agricultural products in a modern market economy will not lose its artificial complexity and Abkhazia is simply not capable of competing with agricultural producers in the regions closest to us, therefore Abkhaz peasants, mostly engaged in individual farms, will continue to be doomed to throw away their products. In my opinion, these ministries will be able to achieve better results together.
  7. The Ministry of Health may include in its structure the State Committee on Physical Culture and Sport.
  8. The Ministry of Education and Science can be transformed into the Ministry of Education, Research and Culture (it will include the State Committee on State Language Policy and the State Committee on Youth Policy). The current Ministry of Culture and Preservation of Historical-Cultural Heritage, as well as the State Committee for Construction and Architecture, will be included in the above-mentioned ministry.
  9. The Ministry of Justice can include the State Committee on State Property Management and Privatization, the State Committee on Standards, Energy and Technical Control, the State Archival Administration, the State Administration on Land Use, the Department of State Statistics, the Office for the Supervision of the Execution of Sentences and the Prosecutor’s Office (without any investigative units).

Although it is theoretically impossible to guarantee that such changes will certainly increase the effectiveness of the work of all the listed governing bodies, but they will definitely make it possible to reduce the waste of taxpayers’ money.

                             Change of administrative-territorial division

The current form of administrative-territorial division of the territory of our Republic was adopted in Soviet times, when the Abkhaz ASSR was divided into six districts. A new Tquarchal district was formed in independent Abkhazia, 1995. In my opinion, such an administrative-territorial division is completely ineffective and does not contribute to solving the strategic tasks in the modern Abkhaz state

I propose to consider and discuss another version of the administrative-territorial division of the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia.

The territory of the Republic of Abkhazia should be divided into three self-governing regions (for example the Italian Republic is divided into 20 regions (Italian. Regioni) with local governments):

  • Sukhum region (Central Abkhazia) with the center in Sukhum;
  • Bzyp region (Western Abkhazia) with the center in the city of Gagra;
  • Abzhuy region (Eastern Abkhazia) with the center in the city of Gal

The independence of local governments in each of these three regions will be ensured by the principle of election: heads of regions, deputies of regional assemblies, city mayors, as well as judges and heads of local, elected police departments.

The principle of forming local self-government bodies on an electoral basis, has a great demand in modern Abkhaz society and considerable prospects.

Thomas Jefferson, in his inaugural appeal of March 4, 1801, said: “A person cannot be trusted to control himself. Then is it possible to entrust him with managing others? ”

The three above-mentioned regions should be divided into nine municipalities (groups of settlements: cities, villages and townships), which will be managed by persons selected for this purpose on a competitive basis by regional authorities.

In my opinion, the Sukhum region (Central Abkhazia) with its center in Sukhum should consist of the following three municipalities:

  • Sukhum municipality with the center in Sukhum (modern city of Sukhum and Sukhum district);
  • Anakopia municipality with the center in New Athos (modern city of New Athos, Ankhua and Psyrdzkha villages, the territory of the historical capital of Abazgia – Anakopia);
  • Tsabal municipality with the center in Tsabal (Gulrypsh district).

There is no doubt that the opening of the Sukhum Military Road, a strategically, economically important road through Tsabal and Dal to the North Caucasus is just a matter of time.
Therefore, the development of the territories of Tsabal and Dal should go from south to north, but not in the opposite direction. We should not be late with this thing. The first step to it is the transfer of the administrative center of the modern Gulrypsh district from the settlement of Gulrypsh into Tsabal. The transfer of the administrative center into Tsabal will make it possible to increase interest in the richest local places, in particular, the interest of Abkhazian repatriates, in terms of the development and settlement of these territories. In XIX century, most of our ancestors were expelled from these territories.
“At all times,” the well-known British historian Dmitry Obolensky (1918–2001) wrote in his work “The Byzantine Commonwealth of Nations”, “a man tried to ease the pressure of the environment, subdue it, change it and use it in his own interests. Freedom of movement is necessary to achieve these goals. In order to cultivate the soil, extract minerals from the earth, trade, travel, create a state, a person needs to overcome his isolation, expand horizons. In order to use the results of civilization, human communities must build roads and learn to keep them in order.”

The Bzyp region (Western Abkhazia) with the center in Gagra form the following three municipalities:

  • Gudauta municipality with the center in Gudauta (part of the modern Gudauta district without New Athos);
  • Pitsunda municipality with the center in Pitsunda (modern Pitsunda with the villages adjacent to it);
  • Gagra municipality with the center in Gagra (modern Gagra district).

The administrative center of this region should be situated not in Gudauta, but in Gagra. Then it will be possible to protect the interests of the Abkhaz state on the west, on the border with the Sochi region of the Russian Federation, where we still have the problem of establishing the State border.

The Abzhuy region (Eastern Abkhazia) with the center in Gal, also forms three municipalities:

  • Ochamchira municipality with its center in Ochamchyra (modern Ochamchira district);
  • Tquarchal municipality with the center in Tquarchal (modern Tquarchal district);
  • Samurzakan municipality with the center in Gal (modern Gal district).

For this region of Abkhazia it is also very important the center location not in Ochamchira, but in Gal. Then it will be possible to protect the interests of the Abkhaz state on the east, on the border with Georgia and the Republic of Abkhazia has not signed a peace agreement with this country yet. Abkhaz sovereign princes understood the importance of moving the Abkhaz population towards Ingur River in the XVIII century.

Rural administrations (the number of them is 105) (except the administration of the high-mountainous village of Pskhu, Sukhum region) should be abolished. Employees of the nine above-mentioned municipal centers (three of them in each region) will cope with their functions.

In my opinion, the maintenance of 105 rural administrations, which do not cope with their functions, on the territory of such a small country as Abkhazia, is just a waste of money.
The vast majority of modern administrations in the villages of Abkhazia are occupied by resolving two issues: reissuing or reselling land plots and organizing elections that are held every five years (parliamentary and presidential ones).

Villagers of Abkhazia and their interests must be protected by elected deputies (one deputy from 105 rural administrations) in three regional assemblies, about 35 deputies in each regional assembly.

Following this form of administrative-territorial division, the problem of state administration in regions with different ethnic composition of the population will be solved.

Housing issue

At the end of the reforming management’s topic I will focus on the most serious problem, how citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia are provided with housing. It is clear that today our state is not able to solve the housing problem quickly and effectively. For example, to create an accumulative mortgage housing system or other systems based on the principles of a market economy to provide housing to citizens. Although it is time to think about it! I propose to consider a more simplified mechanism for solving this issue, it has already been tested in several European countries focused on social justice.

Currently there are eight cities in Abkhazia. I am sure that the budgets of each city will make it possible to buy out several houses or apartments of our population annually (or once every two or three years). Then self-managed regional assemblies together with the heads of eight cities, make lists of citizens who need housing, and on the appointed day a solemn ceremony of drawing lots is held. In our conditions and taking into account the peculiarities of our mentality, only following this way we can achieve justice in the distribution of housing and avoid conflict situations. But as soon as it comes to the fact that the state is ready to buy property from the population, its price will certainly increase. In order to avoid growth in property prices, it is necessary to develop a mechanism for their strict regulation in advance.

Recruitment

 In the matter of recruitment, if we want to get a good result, two conditions must be met: first, the requirements for candidates for positions in the public service must be strict, and second, the appointment is carried out on a competitive basis.

Regarding the first condition, in addition to the knowledge of the state language specified in the law, it is necessary to present other equally serious requirements to the candidates for public service. For example, every candidate for public service must submit a return on income; a person with a criminal record or a drug user, etc., cannot claim to be a civil servant.

As for the second condition, it is necessary to adopt the Law “On Civil Service” (and this should be done in the very near future!), providing for the creation in the system of central management bodies of a special body for managing the civil service. The department should have the authority to convene a state expert commission to select public servants on a competitive basis. The commission will include representatives of the employer, the Presidential Administration, relevant government bodies, representatives of the National Assembly – the RA Parliament, the Public Chamber, as well as scientific, educational and other organizations. Half of the commission should be independent qualified experts

 Everyone who wants to get a civil service will submit applications and fill out relevant questionnaires (biography, education, work experience, income statement, a certificate stating that a candidate for a state service without a criminal record or not a drug user and so on).

The state expert commission on the basis of the considered applications and questionnaires compiles a list of candidates for state work and conducts an interview with each candidate. Following the results of the study of questionnaires and interviews, the commission makes a decision on each candidate.

In the three self-governing regions, as I have already noted above, recruitment on a competitive basis and appointment will be made by regional civil service authorities, regional assemblies and an expert commission, also at the regional level.

Thus, the formation of the state apparatus of management is rationally carried out according to the following scheme:

  • Key figures of the Government of the Republic of Abkhazia – the Prime Minister and nine ministers are appointed by the President of the Republic of Abkhazia. All other civil servants of the central administration (including deputy ministers) are appointed on the proposal of the state expert committee.
  • Heads of three regions, deputies of regional assemblies, heads of cities in each region, judges and heads of regional police stations are elected by voting of the inhabitants of the regions. All other civil servants of self-governing regional bodies are appointed by regional assemblies based on the results of elections.

I don’t understand why the People’s Assembly – the Parliament of Abkhazia has not adopted the Law on Public Service, which would lay down the rules for creating a special body for managing public service in the system of central management bodies, as well as the activities of the state expert commission ?!

After the adopted law on “civil service”, I propose,, to introduce a moratorium in the possibility of appointing to administrative posts current members of the National Assembly – the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia. The current state of affairs limits the ability of political parties and the Parliament of Abkhazia to form executive power.

It is obvious that such measures are necessary to create favorable conditions for the legislative process without interruptions to all sorts of by-elections and to prevent the use of elected deputies of the legislature solely as a kind of springboard to administrative authority. In addition, the ability of the executive power to influence the legislative power will be minimized.

Maybe after this event, people will have access to the National Assembly, for whom the main task will be a lawmaking!

38 laws adopted by the Abkhaz Parliament in 2018, only 9 of them were initiated by the deputies and other 28 laws by the president, is this not an indication towards the executive power? This situation also needs to be changed in the near future.

 Fighting corruption

Recently in Abkhazia, it is vividly discussed the need for ratification of the article 20 of the UN Convention against Corruption by the RA National Assembly – the RA Parliament. I am sure that to accept one article from the entire convention is not enough. Nevertheless I approve of ratifying this article.

However, I repeat once again: ratification of one article of the convention is not enough. Evidence of this is the experience of many countries that have ratified this convention, but never got rid of corrupt officials

It seems to me in the epoch of “E-democracy”, reducing of corruption in the state is possible only if the human element is completely excluded in any relationship between the citizen and the state, and all public services are provided to the population automatically, using modern technologies. But unfortunately in Abkhazia we are not doing anything to solve this problem.

A method of punishment for the theft that existed among the Abkhaz in the beginning of 19th century can be very effective in the fight against corruption in our conditions: : one stole or appropriated state money, he has to return in a double amount, if he cannot, his property will be confiscated! (I will talk about it in detail in the “Security” section).

Thomas Jefferson, in his inaugural appeal of March 4, 1801, asked himself what else needed to make Americans happy, prospering people and he replies: “Still one thing more, fellow-citizens – a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned”.

 (To be continued)

Previous parts: 

1.   Archimandrite Dorotheos Dbar. Abkhazia in modern days. What to do? Part І – Introduction

2.   Archimandrite Dorotheos Dbar. Abkhazia in modern days. What to do? Part ІІ — Politics

3.  Archimandrite Dorotheos Dbar. Abkhazia in modern days. What to do? Part ІІІ — Education

4. Archimandrite Dorotheos Dbar. Abkhazia in modern days. What to do? Part ІV — Mass Media

6. Abkhazia in modern days. What to do? Part VI — Economy