Author:Andrea Weiss (Sabanci University, Istanbul)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores ways to apply the concept of empire to the Russian presence in a post-Soviet "frozen conflict" scenario, focussing on the Georgian-Abkhazian ceasefire line.
Paper long abstract:
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Georgia - which claims the territory of Abkhazia to be a part of it - has not been able to exercise sovereignty on this territory. The results are largely poverty, a subsistence economy, petty trade and relative integration of Abkhazia into the realm of the Russian economy. The state of "frozen conflict" achieved by a ceasefire seems on the one hand to be rather "stable" in terms of its long-term persistence over more than a decade, guarded by CIS peacekeeping forces, representing the imperial quality of Russian involvement in the Georgian eyes; on the other hand the situation is fluid and in motion, attested to by an impressive movement of people and goods, not only across the "Russian-Abkhazian" border, but also across the cease fire line (CFL) between "Georgia and Abkhazia". This mirrors the macro-level relations between Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia. Based on field research, reports and secondary sources this paper explores the effects of the permeability of the CFL for Georgian and Abkhaz nation-building and Russia's empire like policies, and the impact of these types of state-building processes on the "management" of the CFL.
Empires and differences