Tuesday, August 26, 2008

IINO (Independent in Name Only)

So Russia is now claiming that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are free countries independent of Georgia. Oh really?

It is a fundamental principle that a nation state cannot exist as being truly that without international recognition of its status. For example, Turkey claims that North Cyprus is an independent state but it is understood that it is a breakaway region of Cyprus as a whole and more or less under the control of Turkey -- and there is pressure to have Cyprus reunited as a condition of Turkey's application for admission to the EU to be taken seriously.

Another example are the former bantustans in South Africa, which were really puppet states to segregate black people and run under even more repressive conditions than existed in the main country during the apartheid era. It was also an excuse to allow vices that were prohibited by the Pretoria regime -- casino gambling, for example, at Sun City. When apartheid fell, the casino was allowed to continue to operate.

A sovereign state can only be such if it exercises its own sovereignty without assistance, or where the United Nations is required to defend it, only for a limited period of time until it can assert itself. This is not like the situation that existed with the Vatican which had no territory to rule over of from 1870 to 1929 (and which during that time refused to recognize the existence of Italy which surrounded it). Nor is it like Taiwan, which continues to view itself as the legitimate ruler of all China (and which China, in turn, continues to view as a renengade province); a situation even dicier when most nation states treat it as sovereign for business purposes but as having no status or a part of China for diplomatic reasons -- China, after all, has Da Bomb.

Kind of complicates matters, doesn't it -- when nuclear deterrence can be used to solve global issues? I'm sure Putin is itching to punch the button to get rid of one of his enemies once and for all -- innocent civilians be damned.

Can one compare this situation to Kosovo? Hard to say. One cannot forget that Stalin was a Georgian and during his rule he swapped provinces between republics like some switch player trading cards. Russia still chafes at losing the Crimea to the Ukraine. Since they can't get that back, they feel they need some more liebensraum. Just like when Hitler wanted the so-called Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia to "protect" the German minority in the country. Only Russia has a shrinking population, and plenty of space out in Siberia.

Because Abhazia and South Ossetia are recognized to be part of Georgia by the vast majority of the world, although they are currently effectively under the control of Russia, they cannot be independent. If Russia is effectively exercising the sovereignty, it is in fact an illegal occupier -- and has illegally annexed the two provinces which belong to Georgia. It doesn't matter that a majority of people there may want to be independent. Unless the rest of the world accepts the fact, it can't happen and it's not going to as long as both the US and the EU maintain a common front on this issue. Canada should also refuse to recognize this charade.

No appeasement, period. The Russian troops must completely withdraw from the two disputed territories. If -- and only if -- they do withdraw from Georgia and become actual parts of Russia, then Georgia must be compensated for the loss. This could be tangible or intangible means.

Oh, and another thing: In all the appearances the Georgian President has made, he flies the EU flag next to his desk alongside the Georgian one. Legally he's not supposed to do that -- Georgia is not a member of the EU. It is not even a candidate country. He should stop pushing it and put the circle of stars away.

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1 comment:

Ben Hicks said...

A great overview of a complex situation.