Carol Weaver

Abkhazia and the Black Sea Region

For around twenty years the international community has attempted to ‘resolve’ the ‘frozen conflicts’ of the Black Sea region so that all of the people might live in peace, be able to communicate with each other, trade with each other, join international organizations and be subject to international law. However, ‘resolution’ often focuses on issues such as ‘territorial integrity’, ‘self-determination’ and ‘international recognition’ in order to agree on status.

But perhaps the reverse needs to be done. If ordinary people could begin to trust each other again, participate in civil society and travel freely, then eventually the issue of status could be determined more easily by younger generations. Currently there only seems to be deadlock, especially where the South Caucasus conflict regions are concerned, and continuing to isolate communities cannot help the situation.

In many respects, Abkhazia is the ‘breakaway’ region of the Black Sea most able to maintain autonomy regardless of status. It has a long history, a beautiful coastline and reasonably appropriate political structures. However, its isolation from Georgia as well as from other Black Sea and EU countries or organizations can only make Abkhazia more dependent on Russia, leading to a kind of paradox if its desire is independence. Issues of crime and corruption will not be resolved easily either as long as there is isolation.

Rather than focusing on whether Abkhazia is an independent country, or an autonomous region of Georgia, or an almost de facto member of the Russian Federation, could it not just be considered, temporarily, as an active member of the wider Black Sea region and, as such, join in regional activities? In a recent, jointly-written, policy brief I proposed that a democratically elected Black Sea parliamentary assembly, which had, as members, not state deputies but multiple constituency representatives, could be one way of creating a forum for all people of the wider region without necessarily resolving status first. This parliamentary assembly could be a development of the existing BSEC parliamentary assembly, an extended Euronest, or a newly created assembly, provided that all people from all Black Sea regions were represented and had a forum for being heard.

See: http://www.khas.edu.tr/cms/abaum/dosyalar/files/CIESPolicyBrief01.pdf

Dr Carol Weaver
Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester, UK

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