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Anton Krivenyuk: Old conflicts cannot be settled with old tools

Georgia says again it is ready to weigh prospects of establishing one state with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. MP Zakharia Kutsnashvili representing the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia Party suggested constitutionalizing a special status for the former autonomous regions. He claims it will be a special status not autonomy. Discussion of the special status may be launched only after all the parties concerned express willingness to discuss it.

“The issue of the special status for Abkhazia and South Ossetia was raised. A group of the commission members representing the government spoke for a special status for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order to make it possible further to sign a constitutional treaty between the subject representing Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the remaining part of the country,” Dmitry Lortkipanidze, a representative of Democratic Movement opposition party told Sputnik.

Ideas about an agreement-based special status are a blast from the past, at least, when it comes to the Georgian-Abkhazian relations. There were precedents in history. Nowadays, such statements are nothing but political declaration, symbolic definition of “open windows.” However, this declaration speaks much.

Three regional conflicts in the south of the Caucasus create the present-day political landscape of the region. These conflicts affect everything: economy, policy, the life in all the countries in the region. However, this was not always the case and it will not last forever.

Leaving aside the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, let us dwell upon the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South-Ossetian conflicts.

It will seem disputable to many, but the cultural and ideological bases of these conflicts have been lost over time. They exist because they are in the basis of the region’s structure, in politics, in diplomatic rhetoric, and because external actors distance themselves from them, but their spirit has given out.

Here are some interesting quotes in the context of the Transnistrian scenario with some corrections relevant for the Caucasian conflicts.

“The settlement process, not the conflict is “frozen” in Transnistria,” Sergey Gubarev, Russia’s representative in the negotiation process said. “There is no willingness to agree.” Another mediator, OSCE Ambassador Cord Meier Klodt shared his views saying they do not see the conflict as such, EADaily reported earlier.

These stances are applicable to the Caucasian conflict with reservations, indeed, as the Caucasian conflicts are more complicated. Nevertheless, the thesis “not the conflict, but the settlement process is frozen” works in our cases too.

Unlike Transnistrian conflict, in the Caucasian conflicts, social and economic relations were broken and later just partially restored between the conflict parties. The new formats of life that emerged after the wars of 1990s ruled out any communication through closed borders. At present, the parties do not need each other, in fact. Perhaps, there are secret reserves - in economy first - that could open, but it is nothing but a theory. In practice, even in Georgia that demonstrates its readiness for a dialogue they have no idea what the life with restored communications with Abkhazia and South Ossetia will look like. The present-day Georgian state has no relevant experience. In fact, the present-day Georgia has never had any experience of co-existence with republics in a single space. This country was built without them. That is why, among others, none of the parties request settlement.

This is neither good nor bad, this is life. There is something more complicated and interesting. Ideologically and culturally, these conflicts are exhausted, not because they are settled, but because the epoch and the major values feeding them have been exhausted.

As an illustration to this thesis, look at recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the big world. The problem is not in geopolitical issues, there is a conflict of values too. The thrust of the national-liberation wars “we suffered, therefore we have the right” as an argument for diplomatic rhetoric is the value of the world of 1960-1980s. That language is no longer relevant and clear. However, these values have not served out yet and they are trying to hang on them.

The situation we have with the conflicts. When Georgia speaks of special status, it means delimitation of jurisdictions, ethnic quotas, and try to build the world of 1970s.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia see the peace in a similar way but from the other side. Values based on ethnic isolation that is perceived as a way to revive. In practice, the result is the opposite – it appears that in both countries they are deliberately freeing the land from themselves. This happened due to many reasons, one of them is the values that have been exhausted and are no longer interesting to anyone cannot be capitalized and used as a basis for development either economically or politically.

In nowadays world, any temporary statuses may last forever and lack administrative solutions.

Problems created by old values cannot be settled with political and diplomatic tools created by the same values.

Actually, the conflict of identities was developed in the time of active building of ethnos and ethnic consciousness as an alternative to the class-consciousness of the societies of pre-industrial epoch. At present, there is quite a different agenda. Therefore, these conflicts created by old values will sooner or later be wiped out by the values of new epochs.

Anton Krivenyuk for EADaily

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