Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Human rights activist: Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's sovereignty more legitimate than Kosovo's

Regnum, March 25, 2008

Read it in Russian

“Presuming that Kosovo will incite separatist moods in other peoples, including the Abkhazian ans South Ossetian ones, is wrong. In fact, Abkhazia, for instance, has always had more grounds and more arguments for self-determination. And the recent statement of the State Duma deputies who have supported the striving of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestr to independence is very timely,” head of Kabardino-Balkarian Human Rights Center Valery Khatazhukov.

”The statement is, of course, of more a rhetoric character than many hoped it would be. Many hoped that it would contain more clear recommendations for the executive power. But anyhow, this is a positive moment that gives us an opportunity to work with the situation at the federal level,” Mr Khatazhukov observed.

Abkhazia had once joined the USSR as an independent republic. Later, Joseph Stalin annexed it to Georgia. Today, when the USSR is extinct, Abkhazia has no formal grounds to the return of this status. However, for the last 15 years, Abkhazia has proved that she has all the normally-functioning organizations of an independent state, Mr Khatazhukov has reminded.

“Some see contradictions between international principles of self-determination and preservation of territorial integrity of states. As a matter of fact, there are no contradictions. The principle of self-determination is consistently recognized in the provisions of international organizations, first of all, in the UN bylaws. It is even possible to say that it prevails. Territorial integrity of Georgia can only be violated if Abkhazia or South Ossetia joined Russia, i. e., were annexed,” Mr Khatazhukov argues.

According to the human rights activist, argument that the Abkhazian and South Ossetian precedents could lead to the disintegration of the Russian Federation is also ungrounded. “Separatist moods can be provoked by the federal authority itself, if it pursues incompetent national policies inside the Russian state.”

“This could be the result of integration of territorial units, which questions the possibility of preservation of cultural values, of cultural identification of various peoples populating Russia, including the peoples of the Northern Caucasus.”

“Besides, facts of xenophobia have become more frequent, which are not terminated by the government. Most eminent are the anti-Caucasian pronouncements of Zhirinovsky who suggests that the problems of the North Caucasus be solved by deportation of peoples residing in the region to outside the Caucasian Mountains. And Zhirinovsky is a head of a parliamentary party,” Khatazhukov noted.

“Besides, separatism may be incited by thwarting national development programs, including a number of hours for the study of indigenous people's languages,” the rights activist argues. “If in early 1990s, up to 70% of schools performed instruction in the primary school in the Kabardian and Balkarian Languages, now the percentage is becoming lower,” Khatazhukov stressed.

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