Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Striving For Unification But Creating Disintegration?

There's a great little article over at the Eurasia Daily Monitor. It talks of the recent escalation of tension between Tbilisi and Georgia's seperatist regions. Whilst essential for Saakashvili's political credibility to bring these republics back under central control, a violent confrontation would suit neither side. Due to the expulsion of Abkhazia's ethnic Georgian residents during the civil war 12 years ago, Tbilisi's troops would likely meet extreme resistance by the now-majority Abkhazian's. A similar reception could be anticipated in South Ossetia.

However the interesting development in recent weeks has been the restless nature of regions within Georgia's controlled territory. Samtskhe-Javakheti, an ethnic Armenian area, called for its own broad-autonomy, as recently offered by Saakashvili to the two break-away states. Similar events are occuring in Kvemo Kartli a predominantly Azeri region.

The question therefore is, will Saakashvili call their bluff? Unlikely.

The problem with Saakashvili is that despite his friendly rhetoric (which often alternates with more blood-thirsty language) he has authoritarian tendencies which tend to lean towards centralisation. Devolution/Federalism come into direct conflict with such attitudes, and only fuel speculation that the President will repeat the Ajara-scenario. Here, despite a pledge of autonomy, the region has found itself under de facto government control. The legislature is packed with National-Movement members and led by one of Misha's most staunch allies.

If Saakashvili did allow broad autonomy to the two aforementioned regions and Ajara, there would be concrete evidence to support the belief that Ossetia and Abkhazia might receive the same. Unfortunately bringing these breakaway republics under control has more to do with Misha's personal power drive than the territorial integrity of Georgia. Georgians may have to wait years for a new leader, with pragmatic ideals, to become President before they see the borders of their land returned to their true state. In the meantime those minorities already under central control will grow in restlessness as their rights continue to be ignored. Will the next Georgian Civil war come from these areas? Watch this space


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