Saturday, June 18, 2005

Off to the Frozen Conflicts

ethnocaucasus.jpg (JPEG Image, 984x1144 pixels) - Scaled (50%)

The next few days will probably not see me doing much in terms of postings on this site.

I'm off for four days in Georgia in the Southern Caucasus to lead a study tour with special emphasis on some of the so called frozen conflicts of the region.

We'll be going both to the break-away Abkazia region on the Black Sea coast and the equally break-away minded area of Southern Ossetia towards the Caucasus mountain range.

The Caucasus is an area with an ethnic, national and religious diversity that makes the Balkans look perfectly boring by comparisons. Here, the break-up of the Soviet Union lead to a series of national conflicts, the majority of which have since then been just "frozen" without much of a solution in sight.

In Northern Caucasus, the conflict in Chechnya in Russia is of course far from "frozen". In nearby and most important Dagestan, reports point at tensions being on the increase.

And to the South of the impressive mountain range there are the "frozen conflicts" of Abkazia and South Ossetia in Georgia as well as at Armenian-controlled region of Nagorno Karabagh in Azerbaijan.

All of them have the potential to destabilize a wider region if they flare up again. Sooner or later there will have to be a political settlement representing a compromise between the different designs and dreams.

The sooner the better. With both Moscow - for obvious reasons - and Washington taking a keen interest in the area it has aquired a new importance also on the global scene.

Sunday evening we start our trip with dinner in Tibilisi with the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. And Thursday mid-day I hope to be back in Stockholm again.