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Conflict over Abkhazia – Interaction of Georgian-Abkhazian Nationalisms The Role of Institutions and Institutional Actors in the Post-Soviet Developments:

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Presentation on theme: "Conflict over Abkhazia – Interaction of Georgian-Abkhazian Nationalisms The Role of Institutions and Institutional Actors in the Post-Soviet Developments:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Conflict over Abkhazia – Interaction of Georgian-Abkhazian Nationalisms The Role of Institutions and Institutional Actors in the Post-Soviet Developments: Project Duration: September 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011 David Matsaberidze Assistant Professor, Iv.Javakishvili Tbilisi State University

2 Research Team David Matsaberidze, PhD Student, Age – 28; (Project Director, Leading Researcher) Guranda Bogveli, MA Student, Age – 23, Graduation Year 2011; (Research Assistant) Davit Khvedelidze, MA Student, Age – 25, Graduation Year 2011; (Research Assistant)

3 Aims of the Project I Main Research Question(s) Which institutions (political, economic and cultural) were involved, and in what terms, in the flame up and maintenance of the confrontation over Abkhazia? In what terms and through which institutional means political and cultural elite contributed to the build-up and the maintenance of the conflicting relations? What are the correlation of political, economic and cultural factors in the build-up and the maintenance of the conflict over Abkhazia? What are the correlation of the internal and external actors in the build-up and the maintenance of the conflict?

4 Aims of the Project II Main Research Hypotheses The main research hypothesis (RH) assumes that the attachment of Georgians and Abkhazians with their [Soviet time] polities made the conflict inevitable RH 1: Hierarchical character of the Soviet Union and different levels of subordination of the state run institutions made the conflict between them inevitable as soon as the central institution – Moscow level Communist Party – was destructed and dismantled; RH 2: Soviet time institutions were the corner-stones through which the propaganda of inter-ethnic differences and irreconcilable identities were launched; RH 3: Soviet time inherited institutions included some competing institutionalized identities and group belongings which were sparked by the policies of Glastnost and Perestroika, meantime overshadowed with the jinni of the post-Soviet [majority-minority] nationalisms; Summarizing: the post-Soviet conflict over Abkhazia was heavily determined by the institutional path-dependence.

5 Research Methodology Method of process tracing - reconstructing developments over Abkhazia from the late 80s to the early 90s of the 20th century to uncover the core aspects of the post-Soviet developments; Process tracing is contextualized into the comparative perspective across the three presidency periods of Zviad Gamsakhurdia (the early 90s, and the late 80s also count here), Eduard Shevardnadze (from the early 90s to the end of 2003) and Mikheil Saakashvili (from the end of 2003 to the present); Content analysis of all those official documents which were signed over the conflict region in ; Analyzes of core newspapers: Sakhartvelos Respublika, Afkhazetis Khma, Comunisti;

6 Theoretical Framework: Institutionalism What happens is influenced by the institutional structures within which politics occur…and political institutions define the framework within which politics takes place (March and Olsen); Nation - institutionalized political, economic, and legislative-jurisdictional unit of community, that is realized in the form of what is called a nation- state, independent of a pre-existing homogeneous ethnic and/or cultural entity (Ali Kemal OScan); Institutions of communism and their impact on the politics of identity under post-communism (Charels King).

7 Why Institutions? An organized setting within which modern political actors most typically act; Translate structures and rules into political impacts; Translate human behavior into structures and rules and establish, sustain, transform or eliminate institutions;

8 Main Findings The attachment of Georgians and Abkhazians with their polities, and the possibility of the diverse interpretations of the soviet time mutual subjugation of these state-type institutions made the conflict inevitable; The institutional exploration of the post-Soviet developments over Abkhazia in general, and its conflicting manifestation in particular, should be broadly contextualized within the Soviet nationality policy of the 20s and 30s of the 20 th century;

9 Which Institutions? Constitutions (Abkhazian SSR 1925; Abkhazian ASSR 1978; Georgian ASSR 1978); Educational Institutions: Secondary Education Level; Higher Education – Universities; Referendums; Economic Sector; Military Structures;

10 Constitutions The constitutional debates over the status of Abkhazia demonstrates that there could be hardly found any pretext and ground for the legal separation of the Abkhazian ASSR from the Georgian SSR and, later on, of the Abkhazian AR from the Republic of Georgia. Constitutional debates and political bargaining between the center and periphery were gradually transformed into the small scale incidents, baring the ethnic color and pretext. This has successfully laid the basis for the start up of the military clashes and inter-ethnic warfare in Abkhazia.

11 Educational Issues Higher educational institutions - depository of the local Abkhazian intellectuals were involved in the formation of the post-Soviet Abkhazian national project and in the initial build- up of the inter-ethnic confrontation over Abkhazia. The educational reform of 1958 brought the Soviet regime fully in the direction of Russification. After 1958, native-language education in the autonomous republics and regions was reduced, and a new type of school was introduced – the non-Russian school with Russian as the language of instruction – in which native language and literature remained only a subject. Non- Russian parents were then officially given the choice of sending their children to Russian-language schools. The restriction of the local native language education came from the center – Moscow – considerably earlier and not from the particular decisions of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Georgia in the late 80s of the 20 th century.

12 LINGUISTIC RIGHTS (GEORGIAN LANGUAGE) Set the constitutional status of the Georgian language, as the state language in all party, administrative, scientific-cultural and societal organizations; Control the functioning of the Georgian language as the state language; Create the favorable conditions for teaching and learning of the Georgian language for the citizens, who do not know the Georgian language; Set the norms of teaching of the Georgian language and literature in secondary education and higher education institutions; Set the standards of radio and TV broadcasting, with Georgian language subtitles for the Russian language movies and televised programs; Publishing issues (multi-lingual dictionaries and colloquial for all ethnic groups residing on the territory of Georgia).

13 Linguistic Rights (Abkhazian Language) Constitutional status of the Abkhazian language in the Abkhazian ASSR; Wider usage in the secondary educational institutions; Teaching of Abkhazian literature and language in educational institutions; Opening of the 2 years long program of the Abkhazian language at the state university of Abkhazia; Provision of the scientific study of the Abkhazian language; Radio and TV broadcasting; The language formed a part of national agenda of Abkhazians; as it is one of the most sensitive issues in terms of national feelings, it served as a jumping ground for bringing up the ethnic discontent, which later on was transformed into the political battles and warfare activities.

14 Linguistic Rights in the Constitution of Georgia The status of the Abkhazian language was not downsized or restricted after the endorsement of the first post-Soviet constitution of the Republic of Georgia. The constitution of Georgia set the Georgian language as the state language of Georgia, but the Abkhazian language was declared as the state language in Abkhazia (Article 8). The review of the latest resolutions on the linguistic affairs, issued by the soviets at the wake of the empire, as well as the soviet and the post-Soviet Constitutions of the Republic of Georgia, reveals that there was not introduced any clause, aimed at the restriction of the usage of the Abkhazian language. (Adopted on August 24, Last Amendment February 15, 2011, Batumi, 2011).

15 Sovereignty Issues Article 1 of the Constitution of 1978 of Georgian SSR - Republic of Georgia was the sovereign independent state and its territory was unified and indivisible. According to the articles 71, 79 and 82 of the Constitution, the Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic was set within the legal framework of the Georgian SSR. The Constitution of the Abkhazian ASSR corresponded to the Constitution of the Republic of Georgia; Moreover, if the article of the lawful normative of the Constitution of Abkhazia comes into the conflict with the normative of the Constitution of Georgia, the primacy goes to the Constitution of the Georgian SSR. The same formulation is offered by the Constitution of 1978 of the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The fact of the reinstitution of the Constitution of 1921 according to the declaration of February 21, 1992 issued by the Military Council of the Republic of Georgia did not come into conflict with the abovementioned claim, as long as the Article 107 of the Constitution of 1921 of the Democratic Republic of Georgia set the status of Abkhazia as an autonomous governing district of Sokhumi, which recognized the supremacy of the Constitution of 1921 of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, hence determined the status of Abkhazia within the boundaries of Georgia.

16 Referendum(s) and Its Contentions January 16, Resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on holding Referendum on the maintenance of the Soviet Union. March 17, 1991 was set as the day of all union-wide referendum, which would solve the problem of the maintenance of the equal states into the form of the union. February 28, Resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Georgian SSR prohibited holding the all-union referendum on the territory of the Republic of Georgia on March 17 and called for the alternative referendum on March 31, As a counter-measure, the Supreme Soviet of the Abkhazian (A)SSR issued the special resolution on holding all-union referendum on the territory of Abkhazia and called to its citizens on participation in the referendum of March 17, Summing up, it could be said that the referendums, supported by the central authorities of the Georgian SSR and the Soviet Union collided with each-other. The local institutions of Abkhazian ASSR enabled them to create the legal ground to host the Union referendum in Abkhazia, although, as the participation rights in the referendum belongs to the population of the region and not to the region per-se, the great majority of the population – ethnic Georgians – did not participated in it, hence the results of the all-union referendum could not emerge as valid for the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic.

17 Constitutional Project of Levan Aleksidze The Law of July 9, 1992: Abkhazian nationality, which comprised the 18 percent of Abkhazian ASSR, were guaranteed the Parliamentary Majority. Abkhazians – 28 places in the Abkhazian Parliament, Georgians – 26 and other nationalities – 11 seats. The declaration ensured the institutional representation of the nationality to the Supreme Soviet, which had provided the name of the autonomous unit [Abkhazia- Abkhazians]; Elections: September 22, October 12, December 1 and 15 of 1992 of the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazian ASSR were held. The 63 deputies were elected altogether, among them 28 Abkhazians and 24 Georgians. At a concluding phase, Vladislav Ardzinba was elected as the head of the Supreme Soviet of the Abkhazian ASSR. CONCLUSION: 1) No pretense could be grounded on the part of Abkhazians regarding the minority suppression or improper representation in the local governmental structures of the Autonomous Republic; 2) Quite the contrary, evidently, the introduced changes should have caused the dissatisfaction of the ethnic majority of the population of Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, who were Georgians;

18 Military Issues November 27, 1991 – resolutions by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia on the creation of the Military Reserves, Mobilization and State Security Service of Abkhazia; Resolution # 64 of the head of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Abkhazia referred to the colonels of the [Russian] military units of 74545, 10935, – E.N.Ignatov, V.G.Petrov and A.A.Dolgopolov and ordered to hand over the ammunition under their disposal to the representatives of the military units of the Republic of Abkhazia. The resolution was signed by the head of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Abkhazia V.Ardzinba. Various instances of provision of Abkhazian military units with ammunition from the Russian military bases located in Gudauta (documentary evidence);

19 The Two Formulas of the Conflict Discourse on the Conflict from Tbilisi: Tbilisi/Sokhumi vs. Gudauta grounded elite units of the Abkhazian ASSR, headed by Vladimer Ardzinba; Discourse on the Conflict from Moscow: clash between Georgians and Abkhazians (formula - Tbilisi-Sokhumi); NOTE: differentiation of the ethnic Abkhazians and Abkhazian elites from the central authorities of Georgia (Gamsakhurdia, Shevardnadze, Saakashvili);

20 Occupied Territories I used the term occupation and occupied territory on the very first time. I would confirm it today as well and I would dare to declare that the most of the territory of Abkhazia is occupied (Shevardnadze on September 28, 1993); Law on Occupied Territories (Saakashvili, endorsed in October, 2008);

21 Conflict Resolution Plan After the August War 2008 State Strategy on Occupied Territories: Engagement through Cooperation (1) AND Action Plan for Engagement (2): 1. Humanitarian Dimension; 2. Human Dimension; 3. Social Dimension; 4. Economic Dimension;

22 Instruments of Engagement Status-Neutral Liason Mechanism: facilitates communication among the Government of Georgia, the authorities in control in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia; Neutral Identification Card and Travel Document: enables grater access to social services and freedom of movement; assists in employment in private and public sectors. NEUTRAL means neutral in respect to citizenship status; Trust Fund: provides grants to implementing organizations operating in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and across division lines; Joint Investment Fund: supports businesses that promote local economic development, generate employment and build commercial ties between communities on both sides of the division lines. The fund will be jointly funded by donors and businesses; Cooperation Agency: CA enables and facilitates interactions across the division lines. CA will be established as a legal person of public law under the authority of SMR. It will act according to the policies of the government of Georgia in assisting state-funded programs. Financial Institutions: allows accounts setup and maintenance, cash transfers and other legal transactions and assists to the normal operations of the humanitarian and development organizations and businesses present in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia; Integrated Social-Economic Zone: ISEZ creates a value chain across the division line, from the supply of raw materials to production, packaging, quality control and distribution;

23 Relevance for Specific Policy Fields The findings of the research should be important for the following agencies: State Ministry for Reintegration (SMR); NGOs working on the issues of dialogue between Georgian and Abkhazian ethnic groups; Research institutions working on the issues of inter-ethnic relations; Educational institutions with related study programs;

24 Questions for Future Reflection How the government of Georgia should maintain the Abkhazian issue high on the Euro-Atlantic Agenda? Who might be the main allies in the containment of the Russian Federation to make it set back on the Abkhazian issue? How this conflict should become the main concern for the European security as this will be the shortest way to its solution?

25 CONCLUSION The start up of the conflict over the Abkhazia was institutionally built, constrained and developed across time between the confronted groups; Ethnic groups should be seen through their elites entangled within multiple institutions, i.e. as institutionalized actors; Path dependence – Soviet contextualization of these institutions is necessary; Solution of the conflict should ground the possibility of the opening of the new type interaction, through the new, neutral [political, cultural and economic] institutions; The factor of the external state level institution(s) is the main problem in the implementation of the conflict resolution project(s). Containment of the recognition process of the occupied territories and the provision of the international support to the implementation of the conflict resolution project should be the main concern for the central authorities of Georgia at the current phase.

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