Lastly, a loss of Ajaristan (Ajaria) would weaken Georgias buffer with Turkey and increase loss of Black Sea shoreline:
In the conflict between the Ossetians and Ingush, the Russian government favored the “always loyal Ossetians” over the discontented Muslim Ingush. The conflicts with the Georgians in the south and the Ingush in the west have fueled the growth of Ossetian nationalism, but the majority hope for autonomy, not full independence, fearing the loss of Russian protection in the volatile region they have inhabited since ancient times. The Ossetians, although needing Russian protection in the mostly Muslim region, continue to work for the unification of their small nation in a single political entity. In 1996, the governments of North and South Ossetia signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation. Relations between the South Ossetians and the Georgian government improved in the late 1990s. The Georgian government of Eduard Shevardnadze proposed in June 1998 a loose federation of Georgia, Abkhazia, Ajaria, and South Ossetia. The two sides signed agreements on economic reconstruction and the return of refugees, but the political situation remains unsettled and Russian peacekeepers remain in the region. An estimated 13,000 of the 60,000 Ingush refugees who fled the violence in North Ossetia had returned to their homes in the Prigorodny region by March 1999, but meetings between Russian, Ingush, and Ossetian of- ficials were unable to resolve the conflict. A deterioration of the situation in the Prigorodny led to extremism on both sides. In September 1999, Merab Chigoev, the head of the breakaway Republic of South Ossetia, accused the Georgian government of reneging on a previous agreement to provide economic aid to South Ossetia. The Georgian authorities cut off power supplies to the region on 1 September, because the South Ossetian government had failed to pay previous energy debts. The conflict jeopardized the negotiations on defining relations between South Ossetia and the Georgian government. The Ossetians in both Russia and Georgia remain one people, with a strong sense of identity. Demands for unification continue to color the political situation in both countries, although relations between the Ossetians and their neighbors have improved since the early 1990s. Currently most Ossetians favor a special relationship between North and South Ossetia, with cultural, political, and economic autonomy for both Ossetian states.
The Ajaristan regional conflict is complex but easily developed as a social and ethnic collective of a group of martyred people (martyred by Russia) that have sought to create an independent state as well as gain increased recognition for losses they have experienced as a result of Russian ethnic cleansing policies of WWII.
The Meskhetians are one of the worlds newest nations, a contemporary example of ethnogenesis. There was no Meskhetian ethnic group in the Soviet Union until the 1950s and 1960s. The small nation, which formed following its deportation from its homeland in the Caucasus Mountains, overcame differences in religion, dialect, and culture to form a distinct national group. Its members are the remnants and descendents of various Muslim Turkic, Georgian, and Armenian groups deported from the Turkish border region by Joseph Stalin. United by hardships, common experiences, and their Muslim Shia religion, the diverse peoples formed a separate nation in exile. The distinct Meskhetian culture incorporates elements of Muslim, Turkish, and Georgian culture. Many Meskhetians claim descent from the ancient Meskhet tribe, which was mentioned in the ancient chronicles of Herodotus and Strabo. Scholars differ on the issue of the Meskhetian origins; some consider them to be Turkicized Georgians; others, including most Meskhetians, consider them an ethnic Turkic group; a small number consider them ethnic Azeris.
In 1944 around 130,000 Muslims from the Meskhetia region were secretly driven from their homes and herded onto rail cars. The deportees were a diverse group, in terms of both culture and religion. The largest in number were the Meskhi Turks, Sunni Muslims who lived in the Kura River valley of Georgia. There were also Karapapakh Turks, Shia Muslims from northern Armenia; Armenian Sunni Muslims called Kemsils; two groups of Kurds (one Sunni Muslim and the other Shia Muslim) from southern Georgia and Ajaristan; and smaller numbers of Azeri-speaking Turkmens, Abkhaz,* and Ajars. The vacated districts were settled by “more reliable” Christian Georgians and Armenians. Many of the deportees died of hunger, thirst, and cold on the long journey east. Their Soviet guards dumped them at rail sidings across a vast region, often without food, water, or shelter.
Surviving Meskhetian soldiers fighting with the Red Army, numbering over 26,000 of the 40,000 conscripts of 1941, began to return to their homes in the Meskhetian hills in 1945, only to face arrest and deportation. The Meskhetians claim that 50,000 of their people died as a direct result of the deportations and the deprivations suffered in exile. In exile they were required to report every two weeks, like prisoners on parole.
The development of independence on the part of Abkhazia also clearly an aspect of Russian intervention and Soviet social policy demonstrates a similar aspect of attempted control of Georgias assets by Russia and the subjugation and isolation of the Abkhazia peoples through isolated policies of social order and rapid expansion.
Attitude of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria to Georgia
In the historical development of Georgia, but especially in the most recent past other European nations, and in particular other Eastern European nations have sought to support Georgia in its attempt to unify and develop as an independent nation, without the conflicts seeded by the legacy of Soviet policy and its subsequent ethnic nationalism. In the most recent past the three nations of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria (as well as others not mentioned here) are in support of transition in Georgia that is more in line with the European ideal of the EU collective, rather than the CIS collective.
The Eastern European countries see Georgia as similar to themselves in that historical Soviet and Russian policies and practices have influenced their national identities and they would like to seek an EU solution and help Georgia do the same, as the EU is seen as less invasive and more progressive with regard to social and economic development. It is for this reason that many private and public organization in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria have chosen to ally themselves with similar organizations in Georgia.
The Bulgarian and Romanian ambassadors to Georgia said on April 26 during a joint news conference in Tbilisi that upon gaining membership in the European Union, their governments will back Georgias aspirations to accede to the organization, Civil Georgia reports. The ambassadors comments came just a day after their countries signed accession treaties with the EU, setting their entry date for 2007, provided all necessary reforms are introduced on time. Both Romania and Bulgaria will cooperate with Georgia more intensively and support Georgias aspiration to join the European Union,” Romanias ambassador to Georgia, Constantin Girbea, said at the news conference. Gribea said cooperation was already underway within the framework of the New Friends of Georgia, an informal group whose members include the Baltic states, as well as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. “Bulgaria is already working closely with Georgia… And in two years, when the Bulgarian parliamentarians take their seats in the European Parliament, Georgia will also benefit from this,” Ivailo Brazitzov, Bulgarias ambassador to Georgia, said at the news conference. (Civil Georgia, www.civil.ge, April 26). 05/09/2005
This collective ideal discussed in 2005, prior to Russian military intervention, will likely be the sustainable attitude of the three nations as they speak out against the Russian intervention and the collective rejection of Russian recognition of two of Georgias contested regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The history and development of the nation of Georgia has a long and diverse history of both conflict and peace, both associated with its strategic position between Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Due to this strategic position, as well as a plethora of cultural and natural resources the nation once had its independence, in the face of many odds and concurrently has been occupied by nations on both sides of the cultural divide, between East and West. The transition, in modern times for Georgia as an independent nation, from the dissolved Soviet Union, has been one that mirrors history. The resolution has been both confronted by conflict, often associated with historical ethnic and social policies of the Soviet Union and before and after Russia as well as the collective support of Eastern European nations, who would like to see the nation take a different path, i.e. that of collaboration with the UE rather than the CIS. Poland, Romania and Bulgaria have had the most positive and supportive attitude for this EU reconciliation for Georgia, than many other nations, including the border nation Turkey, also seeking EU membership.
Abbott, Wilbur Cortez. The Expansion of Europe: A.