Monday, August 30, 2004

Georgia is on my mind

....because Candace asked me to:

Please spend some more time reading and thinking about it before advocating a position this dangerous.

[Warning this post is long, I would not read this unless you are forced to somehow]

I don't know if I have said this before, but I prefer to make broad, general statements, instead of actually deal with the details. Often I find that once I do did into the details, my original ideas end up being confirmed. Either I am stubborn, dumb, just pick up the facts I am looking for, or was right all along.

I will let you be the judge of that.

To start our the Georgia discussion, I will give the history of the area as best as I possibly can and as short as I possible can.

Here is one account of a lot of Georgian History, which I read, and here is another that I skimmed.

Main points from the above links that I read.

Georgian in the 18th century was a Christian nation, between Iran and Russia. Georgian sought protection from Russia in 1783. It seems like that is where all this stuff started. Georgia spend some time under the control of Iran.

"Tbilisi was destroyed and the population ruthlessly massacred"

East Georgia(which I do not know how that is different from Georgia) was then annexed by Russia, and things kinds started looking up (maybe)...

"The second half of the 19th century shows the abolition of serfdom in Georgia (1864) and an ever-increasing Russification policy that touched every aspect of Georgian society. "

Then they got their freedom...

Soviet Russia and Georgia signed a treaty on May 7, 1920, according to which Russia recognized the independence and sovereignty of the Georgian Democratic Republic. Free Georgia grew stronger and stronger, and it seemed that hopes of Georgian people were at last to be realized, but the Bolsheviks were already at the borders.

Then they lost their freedom...

... The forces were unequal and on February 25, 1921, units of the Red Army entered Tbilisi. In Moscow, Lenin received the congratulations of his commissars--"The red banner blows over Tbilisi."

During the cold war, Georgia was under control of the USSR. Georgia was placed over several of the areas that are in the news today. In the early 1990's Georgia got their freedom again, this is when they got their current government. They have been through a civil war, and a peaceful Rose Revolution.

As a side note, Georgia is a honorary member of (a US 527).

UN Wire reports that on 23 January, the UN Development Program and philanthropist George Soros announced the creation of a trust fund to combat corruption. The fund will pay government salaries and thus help reduce bribery.

Here is a link, about the good things that are happening in Georgia, before we start talking about current events. To understand the latest information coming out of Georgia, you will need to know a few principle players, if you want a broader view of the entire area you should probably checkout this link.

Some of the areas that Georgia is made up of are: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Adzharia.
I will give you some of the information I found, then pronounce judgment on their final status (free or not free).


This is one person's view on why Abkhazia should be free. It starts out weird, but you can just skip the first section. Abkhazia, has been fighting for their freedom, for as long as anyone can remember.

It is said in the Caucasus that, had it not been for the long reign of Stalin, Abkhazia would today have been an independent republic. As it is, this period saw the start of the latest tragic page in the history of Abkhazia. If the first act of the tragedy was the annulment of the country's independence, this was followed by the murder of the national leader of Abkhazia, Nestor Lakoba. This in turn was followed by mass-repressions. During 1936-37 the national intelligentsia of Abkhazia and its leading personnel were annihilated to a man.

At the end the writer quotes from their Constitution, ratified on 24 November 1994.


Recently, in Abkhazia:

Tensions in Abkhazia led to open warfare on a much larger scale than in South Ossetia. In July 1992, the Abkhazian Supreme Soviet voted to return to the 1925 constitution under which Abkhazia was separate from Georgia.

After reading a lot, it gets unclear on the particular motivations of certain groups. Russia is always involved, and because of personal prejudice (ie cold war), I just do not trust them at all. This line though makes a lot of things clear.

For two centuries, the Abkhaz had viewed Russia as a protector of their interests against the Georgians; accordingly, the Georgian incursion of 1992 brought an Abkhazian plea for Russia to intervene and settle the issue. An unknown number of Russian military personnel and volunteers also fought on the side of the Abkhaz, and Shevardnadze accused Yeltsin of intentionally weakening Georgia's national security by supporting separatists.

Currently, Abkhazia is in a stalemate, but the situation is far from resolved.

South Ossetia

History of South Ossetia and here

On 20 April 1922, after the Sovietization of Georgia in 1921, the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast (AO) was formed. Georgian writers have claimed that, like the Abkhazian ASSR, the South Ossetian AO had been formed by the Bolsheviks to create permanent sources of tension, so as to enable the Kremlin to control Georgia more easily.

Another view point from Nation Master:

In April 1922, following fierce fighting between White Russian and Soviet forces the "South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast" (i.e. district) was formed.

South Ossetia was separated (by Russia) from North Ossetia after the Russia Revolution in the early 1900's and joined with Georgia. Early on, South Ossetia has wanted either Federal Status in Georgia or to be joined with it's northern Neighbor (North Ossetia- now apart of Russia) .

Now it appears that the federal status is not enough, and they want to separate from Georgia and not Join North Ossetia according to their leaders.

In 1993, several thousand people died, and Russia was able to strike a peace deal between the two parties. Though recently tensions have escalated, and Russia has it's dirty hands in the current conflicts between South Osseita and Georgia.

Georgian soldiers then intercepted a Russian convoy carrying military equipment, including missiles, which led to tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow

Adzharia (or Ajara or Ajaria)
I could not find any information about the early history of Adzharia, I suspect that is one reason why Adzharia seems to be a success story for Georgia (and here). I think this is pretty much a closed case, and I think Georgia was wise to bring this area back under it's control. There did not seem to be popular support for a separatist movements. You have to read this article, about Aslan Abashidze.

Now to the judgment part.
In deciding whether or not certain areas of Georgia should be allowed to leave the Georgian state, I looked at two main factors: How long the area has been fighting for it's freedom and where they want to go (to Russia, or just be independent).


It appears that Abkhazia wants to be free, and they have tried several different tactics.

Abkhazian leaders have made alternating demands in recent years. At times, they have insisted on full independence, and at other times, they have requested associate membership of the Russian Federation.

Abkhazia seems to be biding its time, to either get Russian support or raise a serious army in order to fight for it's freedom. I am surprised that since the tensions in South Ossetia have flared up, we have not heard anything from this area. A good strategic move, would be to have a uprising at the same time South Ossetia does, in order to stretch the forces of Georgia to the limit.

I don't really see any reason why this country should stay in Georgia, they have a long historical line of sovereignty, very few ethnic connections to Georgia, and have endured some ethnic restructuring at the hands of the Georgians.

Let the Abkhazians go.

South Ossetia

I have read that separate Autonomous regions were created in order to stroke ethnic conflicts to make Georgia easier to control. To me that does not delegitimize the fact that South Ossetia has wanted it's freedom in 1921 and they want their freedom now. They were fighting Russia for their freedom in the early 1900's. They are fighting for their freedom from Georgia now. Though it is not clear whether or not they want to be free or join North Ossetia (a part of Russia). They are saying one thing, and the Georgians are saying another thing. The south Ossetians do not have close ties ethnically or nationally with Georgia, the only reason why Georgia was South Ossetia is because of land, to maintain Georgia's territorial integrity, and to stem the tide of other separatist movements.

Let the South Ossetians go.


This one has been wrapped up, it looks like once the elections happen we will see if the people want to be free from Georgia by the people that they vote for. Though, it seemed like the short lived movement to separate from Georgia was centered around one fellow, Aslan Abashidze , who went back to Russia when he was close to being shot.

If the movement to separate or at least retain its autonomy is solidified through the elections, tensions could flare back up between Georgia and Adzharia, though they will be mostly political for awhile. If Georgia was to mistreat this section of it's country, I suspect that widespread calls for separation would occur.

Arguments Against Freedom

The arguments for retaining the territorial integrity of Georgia which I have seen are: retaining the territorial integrity of Georgia, and the American war on terror.

first, retaining the territorial integrity of Georgia, in order to retain the territorial integrity of Georgia is a tautology, with no logic that leads me to the conclusion that is stated. So unless I seem some convincing sentences between those two statements, I am going to dismiss that every time I read it.

Secondly, the American war on terror makes sense on the surface, but when you follow the logical conclusion of Georgia keeping its borders in tact, you end up with one large unstable state. Instead of having 4 independent, stable states to do counter terrorism with, you have one unstable state to do counter terrorism with.


Additional Sources:
CIA Fact book on Georgia.

amnesty International report.

International crisis Group Report

Update: I found this, and i thought i would share this and this.

1 comment:

Dave Justus said...

I am hesitant about any plans to split up a country into multiple smaller ones. Not because I don't believe that the various groups that make up the country don't deserve anonymity, but because I think a single, larger country that has strong protections for minorities is a better solution

The dividing up seems to be a reversion to tribalism, while I would prefer to move forward to democracy's based upon rule of law, with full protections for all regardless of creed or ethnicity.