Mar. 7th, 2006

rfmcdonald: (Default)
It's a bit rich to criticize the Roma for not adopting the conventional mores of the societies they live in when those societies are themselves new to these mores, and when the only sort of interactions they have with the states which claim tyheir citizenship and their loyalties tends to be of the most intimately coercive kind, as in Parrajmos the Romany Holocaust or in modern sterilization of Romany women. Beating people about the head doesn't make them like you, or want to be you.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
The question of what to do with Abkhazia, a self-declared independent state once part of the Georgian SSR and effectively autonomous since the ill-fated Gamsakhurdia regime of the early 1990s, is moderately pressing. In a recent interview with IWPR, the Abkhazia president reiterated his desire for independence. More plausibly, an independent Abkhazia would quickly fall into the Russian orbit, becoming a closely affiliated microstate with tourism and banking industries that would make Abkhazia to the Russian Federation what Monaco is to the French Republic.

What's wrong with Abkhazia's independence being formally recognized. Douglas Muir has argued at A Fistful of Euros that Kosova has an edge over Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the intensity of its demands, and I tend to agree. I stand by my September 2004 observation that Georgian nationalism has never been particularly tolerant of minorities which disagreed about their Georgianness. If you buy Renan's argument in Qu'est-ce qu'une nation? that a nation is made up of people who want to live together. Regardless of their political stripes, then Mingrelians and Ajarians are decidedly Georgian while Abkhazians and South Ossetians are not. Reunification on the Cypriot model--some Cypriot model--would be nice, but the Cypriot Turks have been willing to entertain the idea of reunification at length. The Abkhazians seem to be united in opposing this idea. As for the refugees, Georgia is a country with demographic processes dominated by massive emigration. How likely is it that so much war-devastated territory, urban and rural both, is ever going to be resettled?

The various peace plans proposed by Tbilisi, insisting on Abkhazian recognition of Georgian supremacy and unity, seem to reflect a mentality in relation to Abkhazia that's frankly as openly irredentist as that of Serbia in relation to Kosova. This bodes ill for a truly multiethnic and multinational Georgia. For the sake of a democratic Georgia, it has to abandon its desire for empire. And if this sets precedents for the closely affiliated North Caucasus region, so much the better.
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