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Georgia’s Circassian issue destined to be unanswered

11.11.2010  |  16:55

9891.jpegDomestic problems seem too few to Georgia that launches an extended policy of destabilization in Russia's North Caucasus with the "Circassian issue" as the cutting edge. The country that hates its neighbors for participation in the Abkhaz war wants to tell the truth about "genocide" of Circassians for the whole world to know. Georgia's rationale is understood: to take revenge on Russia for recognition of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence. But Tbilisi just does not see an inch beyond their nose. Otherwise they would see that the policy of "depressurization" in the Caucasus region is fraught with problems to Georgia only.


Winter Olympics in Sochi will take place in 2014. Before that time Georgia will make lots of attempts to upset the organizers. Tbilisi has a whole strategy to frustrate the sporting event. To do that Georgians undertook to prove that the Caucasian war in the 19th century is the genocide of Circassian nation. For the time being the idea has no supporters. Even Circassians are not thrilled by the Georgian initiative. Nonetheless, Tbilisi strategists have obtained some results.  

This year the country's parliament considered the issue of recognizing the fact of "genocide" of Circassians in the second half of the 19th century, and the executive branch of the government organized a conference under the unpronounceable title "Hidden Nations, Enduring Crimes: The Circassians and the Peoples of the North Caucasus Between Past and Future".

Georgia's goals are as transparent as water in a mountain lake. First, it's revenge on Russia for recognition of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence. This line is called "policy of symmetry" in Tbilisi that views Russia's recognition of former autonomies as interference in Georgia's domestic affairs. That means Moscow will be repaid in kind.

Secondly, the dream of the Georgian leaders is to frustrate the Olympics. Georgia even submitted a request to reconsider the host city for Olympics-2014 to the International Olympic Committee that naturally turned it down.

Then Tbilisi's only driver is revenge. When Sochi won the right to host the Olympic Games, the Georgian republic gave congratulations. It happened before 2008: in fact the Olympics a few miles away from the Abkhaz border is a tragedy to Georgians. The value of peace in the region has gone up significantly to Russia. It became clear that Moscow will seek a status quo to protect itself from surprises of Georgian policy. Plainly speaking, the Olympics have buried Georgia's plans for a solution of the Abkhaz conflict by force.

Besides, Sochi Olympics give Abkhazia completely new economic opportunities. In this case Georgia with its "Involvement Strategy" can't compete with multi-million investments. That is why the Circassian issue is the only chance to raise hell around the Olympics if frustration is impossible.

The Circassian direction is only part of the grand Caucasian project Georgian authorities are preparing. In January 2010 "First Caucasian Channel" a new satellite channel was created to attract North Caucasian audience. This is the most powerful instrument of Georgian agitprop over the whole history in best traditions of the Cold War propaganda.

A month later, in February 2010, the Georgian parliament established the "Group of Friendship and Cooperation" with the North Caucasian republics calling them to "cooperate in development of Caucasian civilization and preservation of historically close friendly ties between nations of North Caucasus in contrast with deteriorating political relations between Georgia and the Russian Federation".

This policy is a perfect demonstration of Georgia's powerful ambitions aimed at turning Georgia in Caucasian Turkey that pursues a large-scale cunning regional policy and can issue its own "red book" with favorite countries in it.

But reality is harsh. Georgia is a rather weak state that has no resources to become the center of Caucasus and tear down Russia's positions in North Caucasian region. The Circassian game is an a priori losing project. Tbilisi could have a chance if Russia had a tough stance on the issues of Circassian history. Like Turkey, for instance that loudly refuses to acknowledge genocide of Armenians and lets Armenia turn this topic into a number one trend in its foreign policy.

Moscow avoids making historical evaluations and unlike Ankara there are no big campaigns refuting well-known historical facts. By the way, parliaments of two North Caucasian republics - Adygea and Kabardino-Balkaria recognized events of the second half of the 19th century as genocide a while ago, and in 2007 Abkhaz parliament did the same.

Generally speaking, Russia can easily avoid problems connected with the Circassian issue in run-up to the Olympics as proposed by leaders of Circassian organizations and competent experts.


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