CHAPTER 27 NEW HOT BEDS OF CONFLICT IN CAUCASUS

The Karabakh movement echoed in different regions of Caucasia. The ethnic minorities sensed that the time to do away with the titular nation had come. The ethnic demands became the dominant motifs for genuine independence. These demands which buried the Soviet Union, continued to shape and reshape the configuration of states and political movements on the vast territory of the former Soviet Union. The national demands grew and changed, splintered and clashed, discordance and conflict spread too easily into armed clashes and war. The Georgian leadership began to talk about the impossibility of presenting with territories to such temporary guests as the Abkhazians, Ossetes, Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Avars, Russians. The Ajars and Armenians were the only exceptions in their list. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was especially hostile. Soon realizing his mistake he hurried to declare that he didn’t mean the natives of Abkhazia – the Abkhaz people. But it was already too late as the Abkhaz movement was already in process. As most of the other North Caucasians, whose ancestors lived in the region since the dawn of history, the Abkhaz too were decimated in Russian offensives against them and furiously resisted the Russians from the 1830s into the 1860s. Many of them were killed or emigrated to the Ottoman Empire after they were defeated. The war ended in 1864 when G. Yevdokimov’s troops won an absolute victory over the mountainous Abkhaz. Georgia had joined Russia on its own accord. The Bolsheviks seperated Sochi from Abkhazia and gave it to Georgia. The whole North Caucasian territory was divided into ethnic units of various levels. After the migration of the Muslim Abkhaz to Turkey in the 19th century, the Russian, Pontic Greek and Hamshen Armenians replaced them. A hundred thousand of Abkhaz had migrated to Turkey after Russian conquest. Now their number is 300 thousand in Turkey. The Christian Abkhaz didn’t leave their native lands. Stalin and Beria methodically conducted a policy of “Georgification” towards the Abkhaz. Bearing the common name of “Georgian” tens of thousands of Megrels and Svans were settled on the Abkhaz territory. They accounted the 44 percent of the population. That policy of Georgian authorities made the Abkhaz turn to Russia.

The outcome of the Georgian persecution was the vigorous Abkhaz resistence.

The Georgians accused Russia of arming the Abkhaz. But the Georgian National Army was better armed and enjoyed numerical superiority over the Abkhaz. As Azerbaijan, Georgia represented to minor Empire. Such kind of units are always destined to destruction. It’s impossible to hold ethnic territories forcibly.

Replacing Z. Gamsakhurdia, the Georgian leader Edvard Shavarnadze declared; “The handing over of Sukhumi means an end to Georgian political independence”, i.e dependence from Russia couldn’t be avoided.

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