December 20, 2014

Hasan Kanbolat - Circassians in their 150th year: the present and the future

The Federation of Caucasian Associations (KAFFED) organized a comprehensive conference titled "Circassians in their 150th year: the present and the future" in Ankara between Dec. 13-14, with the attendance of 48 speakers.
The topics discussed in the conference included the Ukrainian crisis, which has started to affect Turkey and the North Caucasus, Russia's increasing isolation and the priority it is giving to security policies and the change in Russia's North Caucasus policy and its moves to restrict the sovereignty of Abkhazia.

The Ukrainian crisis wasn't discussed much and it failed to make a big agenda item. However, it is the most important crisis that has occurred between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War. This political crisis is evolving into a comprehensive crisis with economic and military aspects. It is deepening and there is no sign of abatement. This crisis is also a new development for Russia. As the West “otherizes” Russia, Russia imposes self-isolation and becomes more and more centralized.

The Western-Russian crisis is now starting to affect the South Caucasus as well. Baku holds Russia responsible for the rekindling of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It believes that Russia is trying to exert pressure on Azerbaijan using the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. In Georgia, pro-European Union ministers were forced to resign. Armenia is being pressured to become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). With an agreement made between Russia and the government of Abkhazia, the sovereignty of Abkhazia has been restricted. This was a real shock to people in Abkhazia. Abkhaz intellectuals and politicians have opted not to raise objections to this agreement, fearing their opposition might endanger the country's independence and stability.

Abkhazia is boiling inside. If the Abkhaz people do not raise an objection to this restriction, their silence is nothing but despair. The situation in South Ossetia is even worse. Having restricted Abkhazia's sovereignty, Russia is preparing to swallow South Ossetia like Crimea. Russia's federal structure is being undermined. The political rights the Russian Federation's nations had inherited from the era of the Soviet Union are being pruned. A legal infrastructure is being created to allow the Kremlin increased clout over the North Caucasus. This signals the beginning of a new era in Russia. This era is characterized by increased power in the center, the prioritization of security policies and the creation of domestic and external enemies. If Russia is faced with a serious economic crisis, this will persuade the Kremlin to restrict its resource transfers to federal republics in the North Caucasus. This, in turn, may bring about the economic and political instability of the North Caucasus.

In this era, nations will be required to choose sides as during World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Depending on the side they choose, their fate will be determined. With the West's political and economic pressure on the Russian Federation mounting and its military pressure about to kick off, does Turkey have any chance of saying "I am not in this game"? What would Turkey win or lose if it plays the game?

todayszaman.com

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