Çağdaş Duman

Ethnic Problems in Georgia and Russia

Date of publication : August 10, 2018 21:05 pm
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) attends a ceremony marking the 1030th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity by Prince Vladimir, the leader of Kievan Rus, a loose federation of Slavic tribes that preceded the Russian state, in Moscow on July 28, 2018.

In the Caucasus geography, so many ethnical factors have been living through the centuries. Georgia is a small Caucasian mosaic as demographic. These ethnical differences make Georgia politics weak. After the collapse of the Soviets, Russia Federation has attempted to fill the authority gap appearing in the Caucasus geography. The most ordinary example of this is the Commonwealth of Independent States. After Georgia declared its independence and the collapse of Warsaw Pact, the ample scope of Russia, the follower of the Soviets, diminished. To investigate Abkhazia problem from this perspective will bring in a different point of view for the problem to be understood.
 
After the ‘Velvet Revolution’, Georgia foreign policy established Saakaşvili region policy setting out with the slogan ‘union in whole Georgia’ on this base. Another separatist region in Georgia is Ossetia. A part of Ossetian people live in Republic of North Ossetia belonging to Russia Federation. Another part lives in the South Ossetic Autonomous Oblast belonging to Georgia. This region forms a problem between Russia and Georgia. The Treaty of Dagonis was signed for the problem in the South Ossetia at the end of the negotiations between Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Şevardnadze in 1992. According to this treaty, a common control commission was founded by the agencies of Georgia, Russia, the South and North Ossetia and a peace corps structured by this commission was settled in the region. According to the result of a referendum made in the South Ossetia in 2006, the South Ossetia people are partisans of independence in 90% ratio. The countries in the west didn’t accept this referendum. Russian Peace Corps being spoken in the region of the South Ossetia is being charged with supporting the separatist movements in the region by Georgia government. Georgia is defending as solution offer that an international security force should come to the region. According to the separatist management in the Tshinvali region differently from the other management which in the South Ossetia and was assigned by central Georgian government, the existence of Russian Peace Corps is seen as a balance factor against a possible ‘Georgian Occupation’. After Georgia departed from Russia, Russia’s policy to Georgia changed and harsh policies started to be performed. Russia considering the region as ‘close region’ doesn’t delight from that the governments, partisans of the West, acceded. In a short-term, Georgia will strengthen its relations with both the West World and the region countries and its effort of linking all the separatist governments in Georgia to the center will continue. The South Ossetia policy of Russia will continue in the same way and Russia will be able to use it as strength for Georgia to be balanced.
 
Abkhazia is maintaining its existence with a ‘de facto’ government by benefiting the authority gap in the region after the declaration of independency in Georgia. After the tension between Georgian and Abkhazian, the UN Security Commission and the Commonwealth of Independent States are in the region today. The UN has 102; the CIS has 1800 soldiers in the region. Recently, the policies partisan of Russian are being followed in Abkhazia. The number of Russian passport users is gradually increasing. Russia is giving importance to Abkhazia in the framework of the Black Sea geopolitics since the region has the importance to protect the North Caucasian region of Russia against the outer meddling.
 
The Russian factor in these separatist movements in Georgia made Georgia closer to the West and caused the nationalism wave to spread and the difficulties lived in the transition from communist system to free market affected the inner dynamics negatively. The ‘Velvet Revolution’ occurred in Georgia under these conditions. Saakaşvili took the lead of the management after the demission of Eduard Şevardnadze on November 23, 2003. Saakaşvili is ready for making every kind of attempt by NATO, the OSCE and the EU in order to protect the territorial integrity. At the same time, NATO process of Georgia is continuing simultaneously as Russian military bases in the region being evacuated. In the last referendum, a big majority supported to the policies being followed for Georgia to join at NATO. The ‘Velvet Revolution’ in 2003 is a turning point for Georgia to being democratic in the framework of the EU’s ‘Neighbourhood Politics’. The EU is on the side of the government partisan of West in Georgia to be supported because a model country is needed for democracy and liberalism in the old Soviet geography to spread. At the same time, the EU is making effort for Baku- Tblisis- Ceyhan oil pipeline as the foundation stone of the energy safety not to be weak. So, Georgia has a lock role in the projects of the East-West corridor in the region.
 
The possibility of being unsuccessful in the long-term process of the politics followed by Saakasvili is high. In the region, the Russian factor should never be underestimated because Georgia is neighbor of neither the USA nor the EU. Against the existing separatist movements, the countries in the West are bewaring to oppose Russia. The reason why the ‘revolution’ couldn’t prove the expectations of the people in nearly three years is that ‘revolution’ didn’t sit down on the fundamental bases. Since the tension in the foreign policies of the USA and Russia shows its effect on the regions with problem much more, tension in the domestic policy of Georgia is increasing.
 
We can say that the relations of Georgia which it is maintaining with Turkey and that two countries are becoming close can present the importance on the foreign policy of Georgia. Georgia government insisting on that Russia is threatening to its independency is coming closer to the West World. It is not obvious that this will go on in the future. Georgia can continue the relations with the USA and use this as strength against Russia. At the same time, Georgia following multisided foreign policy is thought to be more active in domestic problems. Turkey can act a role simplifying the solutions of problems in the region. If this politics is looked on with favor by both Georgia and the other region countries, the stability and the democratic conversion can be supplied in the region. The only country which is the member of NATO in the region is Turkey.
 
The return of Abkhazian Turkish and that Turkey is a member about Adjara and at the same time, that the separatist demands of Cevahati Armenians living in Georgia indirectly threaten Turkey’s territorial integrity made Turkey follow an active politics in the region. Turkey should support the territorial integrity and the EU membership of Georgia. Besides, it should urgently help the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh to be solved in an objective way.
 
 
 

Çağdaş Duman, is the PhD candidate at Department of International Relations, Ege University. Contact him via: cagdasduman369@gmail.com

 

 
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