Hear Abkhazia

Some people in Abkhazia are concerned that they only have one international ally, and would like to develop links with European Union countries to reduce their dependence on Russia.

"The situation forced us into these circumstances," Inal Khasig, an independent Abkhaz journalist, said.

"It’s also the fault of the international community, Europe and the United States, which have been constantly denying us the possibility of having our own state, so practically, this pushed us into Russia’s sphere of influence."

 "Russians did not protect us because they are in love with Abkhazia and Ossetia," Leon Adzhindzhel, member of the local Foundation for Independent Expertise, and an expert on regional issues told IPS. "Their rapid and massive involvement in Southern Caucasus has been very costly; 74 billion dollars of capital flew from Russia during the war last summer, but it was necessary in order to avoid an explosion in the Northern Caucasus."

Northern Caucasus, where many autonomous republics of the Russian Federation such as Northern Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan are situated, remains a highly volatile region. Paused conflicts and quasi-civil wars between pro-Russian elites and separatists loom in many of them.

Adzhindzhel believes Georgia launched the aggression in order to provoke the dormant ethnic conflicts in the Northern Caucasus. "If fighting had carried on too long, the Caucasus would explode. Imagine that the day after Georgia’s attack, Ossetian newspapers went out saying that Russia betrayed Ossetia."

For now Russia has responded and has tamed its geopolitical opponents. But the challenge of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment without selling off the beauty of the region and the fortune of locals to big business interests is going to be a difficult one.

It is still not late for the Europe to do the right thing.


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