Friday, May 09, 2008

JOURNAL: Russia and the “Frozen Conflicts” of Georgia

Russian Analytical Digest, May 8

Georgia’s Secessionist De Facto States: From Frozen to Boiling
Stacy ClossonRelations between Russia and Georgia have reached a new low. At the center of their quarrel are Georgia’s secessionist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As Russia and Georgia accuse the other of troop movements in and around the secessionist territories, the UN, EU, OSCE, and NATO meet to determine their response. Critical to these deliberations are several underlying developments, which would benefit from an independent review. These include economic blockades of the secessionist territories, Russia’s military support for the secessionists, the issuance of Russian passports to secessionist residents, and declarations of independence by secessionist regimes. In these circumstances, it has become difficult to contain the conflicts without resolving them. However, as conflict resolution has proven impracticable, it is time to consider altering present arrangements in order to prevent an escalation of violence.

A Russian Perspective: Forging Peace in the Caucasus
By Sergei Markedonov
Although frequently described as “frozen conflicts,” the situations in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which seek independence from Georgia, are in fact deteriorating quickly. The precedent of Kosovo heartened the leaders of the break-away regions and spurred Georgia to take action to reintegrate its lands. In reaction to the West’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence, Russia began to institutionalize its support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia and formally lifted trade sanctions against them. This article argues that helping to unfreeze the conflicts is a bad policy for Russia. Instead, Russia would be better off trying to stabilize the conflict areas and only discussing the status of the various territories once their economic situation is secure.Opinion Poll Russian Popular Opinion Concerning the Frozen Conflicts on the Territory of the Former USSR

A Georgian Perspective: Towards “Unfreezing” the Georgian Conflicts
By Archil Gegeshidze
Since the early years of independence, Georgia has been negotiating terms of political status with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, although the process has often reached a deadlock. The existing formats of political negotiation and peacekeeping have proved ineffective and the Georgian side has requested a comprehensive review of the entire peace process. There are many factors that hinder the process of conflict settlement. Topping the list are images of the other as the “enemy” and a deep mistrust among the sides. The primary impediment, however, is Russia’s manipulative policies in the conflict zones aimed at preventing Georgia from acceding to NATO. A comprehensive strategy to break the deadlock needs to be devised and doing so requires the deeper involvement of European institutions in “unfreezing” the conflict.

An Abkhaz Perspective: Abkhazia after Kosovo
By Viacheslav Chirikba
The Kosovo case opens up a new chapter in the modern history of admitting states into the international community, as this province was recognized against the will of its mother state, Serbia. Now, after Kosovo, one can hardly off er any more or less reasoned explanation as to exactly why the already 15 year-long de facto independence of Abkhazia, unlike the independence of Kosovo, cannot be recognized by the international community.


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