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Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus — updates when time permits

Genocides and politics in the Caucasus – part 2

After previous deliberations, Georgia’s parliament has now on 20 May formally recognised the Circassian Genocide which took place towards the end of the Russian Empire’s conquest of the region, culminating in 1864.

In itself, it is a good thing that these events have been recognised for what they are. However, this is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that this was so obviously a political decision. Apart from the fact that it is clearly a result of Georgia’s current anger with Russia, if Georgia really aspires to the moral leadership of the Caucasus, it should also recognise the Armenian genocide, something Armenian groups have requested on several occasions. Moreover, as Thomas de Waal rightly points out, it is striking that Georgia has only recognised as genocide the Tsarist murder of Circassians, and not the very similar murder of Abkhaz in 1867 and 1877.

For this, two reasons suggest themselves. First, the territory left empty was populated by Russians and Armenians, but the events also marked the start of several waves of Georgian colonisation (both forced and voluntary). Second, in its declaration, the Georgian parliament has also decreed that deported Circassians should be recognised as refugees. If it would also recognise deported Abkhaz as refugees, it would be hard to disagree with Abkhazian efforts to bring about the return of its diaspora. It would also undermine Georgia’s claim that Abkhazia’s independence project is rejected by a majority of the people who have a right to live there.

Filed under: Abkhazia, Armenia, Circassians, Georgia, Russia, , ,

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