CORRESPONDENCE.

AuthorForeman, David

Sir,

I enjoyed reading Mr Dolidze's article 'Georgia: challenges and opportunities' (vol 45, no 6), just as I enjoyed visiting his fascinating homeland of Georgia, with its unique culture and, surely, the most hospitable people on Earth.

However, I believe he draws a simplistic picture of his country's situation. Despite its small area and population, Georgia is a very diverse country. The two areas which have broken away from Georgia with Russian assistance, Abkhazia and Ossetia, are ethnically distinct from Georgia and their peoples speak languages totally unrelated to Georgian. The Soviet regime recognised this by granting them limited autonomy within Georgia. It was the newly independent Georgian government's refusal to recognise these differences that led to war in the early 1990s and the withdrawal of these two areas from Georgia. And although hardly any countries have recognised their sovereignty and despite the general consensus that the borders separating the Soviet Union's union republics should become immutable international borders, I doubt if they will be returning to Georgian control--largely, I believe, because their residents don't want to.

As for the 2008 war with Russia, my recollection is that an EU report blamed Georgia for starting the conflict by attempting to recover Ossetia through force, even though negotiations with Russia about its status were still proceeding. This put paid to the notion that Ossetia and Abkhazia might return to Georgia via some negotiated arrangement.

It is time, I believe, for Georgia to accept some responsibility for its current situation rather than just blaming Russia, which is all too easy in the current environment.

DAVID FOREMAN

Treasurer/Acting Secretary

NZIIA Waikato Branch

HE George Dolidze responds: Let me start by praising Mr Foreman for his flattering review of my country, its culture and so forth.

Georgia is indeed a diverse country, which did not prevent us from being an integral state for centuries and the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions have always been constituent parts of it. We do not have an opportunity here for deep historical deliberations. Therefore...

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