20 July, 2008

Phantom Countries: The Secret Life of Abkhazia

CAVEAT: I can't claim to know too much about Abkhazia, so I am willing to take corrections from my many readers on any factual inaccuracies contained here.

Abkhazia is a separatist region of Georgia, the country in the Caucausus that used to be part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In the past, the region had a degree of autonomy within Georgia, but when the Soviet Union broke up a separatist movement came into being. Perhaps the Abkhaz separatists feared that their distinct ethnic identity would be swamped in an independent Georgia, or perhaps there were more sinister forces at work. Either way, the Abkhaz separatists successfully fought off Georgian armed forces and established a de facto regime in the former autonomous region. This achievement is all the more impressive when one recalls that ethnic Abkhazians were apparently only a minority of people in the Abkhaz autonomous region.

Since the war (which took place at some point in the 1990s), Russian troops have been deployed in Abkhazia, supposedly as peacekeepers between the separatists and the Georgians. It is widely believed, however, that the Russian troops are primarily there to protect the separatist regime and prevent the re-absorption of Abkhazia into Georgia. There are even those who see the whole business of Abkhaz separatism as a scheme of the Kremlin to weaken Georgia and undermine its independence, a proposition supported by the astonishingly well-armed and trained forces the Abkhaz separatists were able to deploy against the Georgian state. Further evidence of Russian partiality was seen recently when the Georgian flew an unmanned drone over the separatist region, only for it to be shot down by an unidentified jet. The Abkhazians do have their own air force (largely consisting of First World War biplanes and balsa wood aircraft powered by rubber bands), but the unidentified jet had the kind of twin tail-fin only seen in the latest Russian air force interceptors.

I am not clear on whether the Abkhaz separatists wish to set up their enclave as a little independent state, or whether they would ultimately prefer to merge it into Russia. Given the apparent links between Abkhaz separatism and the Russian state, it is perhaps not really appropriate to think in terms of the separatists as having any actual autonomous goals and desires – they may well be simply creatures of the Kremlin, people whose goals are defined by Russian political interest.

Picture from Wikipedia


Mtn said...

Yes, unfortunately you don't know about Abkhazia and origin of Georgian Abkhazian conflict.

See: Origins and Evolution of the Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict, by Stephen D. Shenfield http://www.circassianworld.com/Geo_Abk_conflict.html

Abkhazia's Liberation and International Law by E. K. Adzhindzhal, Sukhum, 2007

Graphic: Demographic change in Abkhazia, Conciliation Resources

for more: www.circassianworld.com

For some 60 years Abkhazia was forced to accept the unwelcome status of being a mere autonomous republic with Soviet Georgia (thanks to the ruling of the Georgian dictator Stalin – ‘Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili’). For daring to defend our interests in the face of Georgian nationalist aggression, we were subjected to 14 months of savagery. In alliance with our allies from the Abkhazian diaspora or Abkhazians’ cousins in the North Caucasus, we succeeded in ejecting the invader and winning the war. All that Georgia under its various leaders/governments has been willing to offer us by way of a settlement is a return to the ‘status quo ante’— the sudden offer by Misha Saakashvili of asymmetric federation produced on the eve of the recent NATO summit in Bucharest was clearly aimed more at impressing the Western alliance than at appealing to Sukhum. How many examples are there in history where a people after being invaded, losing 4% of their population, and yet finally winning the war have meekly resigned themselves to accepting the selfsame subordinate status they had before the tragedy of a war inflicted upon them? This is something that the Georgian side and their international backers (who have no interest in the fate of minorities but think solely of the ‘big picture’ of preserving territorial integrity, of finding allies in an unstable part of the world, and of securing the flow of oil) would do well to remember. The Georgians lost Abkhazia in 1993. They should be told by their EU, NATO and US ‘friends’ to accept this fact, find a ‘modus vivendi’ with their neighbours (big and small alike), and then contribute to the creation of stability and prosperity for the Caucasus region as whole. We can all then get on with our lives in the peace that we all deserve.

http://www.euratlas.com/travel_time/europe_south_east_0800.html in year 800

http://www.euratlas.com/travel_time/europe_south_east_0900.html in year 900

http://www.euratlas.com/travel_time/europe_south_east_1000.html in year 1000

REPUBLIC OF ABKHAZIA http://www.circassianworld.com/Abkhazia.html

Anonymous said...

Russian stance has only recently become clearly pro-Abkhazian.

During the war Moscow provided arms to both sides of the conflict. And as recently as 2004 Russia imposed a near-total blocade on Abkhazia when the pro-Moscow candidate lost the local presidential poll.