Feature

Eduard Kokoity er president for Sør-Ossetia. Her under massemøtet i Tshkinvali torsdag. Vi drar kjensel på den brutale fremtoning til en Karadzic. Mønsteret er det samme: brautende skryt, påberopelse av å ha blitt krenket, samtidig som man selv organiserer milits som forsyner seg av verdier og kvinner og brennevin etter forgodtbefinnende. Mordlysten stiger underveis. Det er en blanding av grådighet og brutalitet basert på etnisk gruppering som ikke kan gi noe levedyktig samfunn.

Selve kravet om løsrivelse og uavhengighet baserer seg på at 20 % av befolkningen har fordrevet 80 %. Dette skjedde i 92.

At Georgia utløse politiske holdninger som går dypere, viser en artikkel av den anerkjente Neal Ascherson, som har skrevet en bok om området – Black Sea. I en artikkel i OpenDemocracy konkluderer han med at Abkhazia må bli uavhengig. Prosessen er irreversibel.

The best thing that the west can now do is to stop talking about «Georgian territorial integrity». It is dangerously absurd for politicians and the media (even the BBC) to describe South Ossetia and Abkhazia as «breakaway regions of Georgia», as if their «illegal secession» can somehow be reversed. It cannot. That useless dream is long dead. The question now is quite different. It is how their independence can be recognised and made real. Only in that way can the outside world make it harder for Russia to use them as pawns, in the game of crippling Georgian freedom and reasserting imperial «indirect rule» over the whole Transcaucasus.

It may not be possible to rescue South Ossetia, tiny and without resources, from becoming a Russian protectorate or even part of the Russian Federation – and most of its people seem to want that. But Abkhazia, with its once-flourishing holiday coast and its abundance of sub-tropical fruit and vegetables, can be a perfectly viable Black Sea nation-state. The European Union has a new regional neighbourhood programme, the Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme. It’s time for the EU to stop pretending that Abkhazia does not exist, to integrate it into the programme, and to give it vigorous help for reconstruction and development.

And Georgia, that miraculous little nation which contains some of the world’s most talented people and some of its worst politicians, must change too. It is not Georgia which has been defeated, but a particular Georgian policy towards «territorial integrity». This policy has again and again played into Russian hands, ending each time in bloodshed, the flight of weeping refugees and damage to Georgia’s standing in the world.

After the war: recognising reality in Abkhazia and Georgia

Neal Ascherson is a journalist and writer. He was for many years a foreign correspondent for the (London) Observer. Among his books are The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo (1963; Granta, 1999), The Struggles for Poland (Random House, 1988), Black Sea (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996; reprinted 2007), and Stone Voices: the Search for Scotland (Granta, 2003)