The de-isolation of Abkhazia

This publication is the fourth in a series of ‘Dialogue through Research’ reports produced by Georgian and Abkhaz experts. The reports seek to shed new light on the conflict and to stimulate a different way of thinking about conflict-related issues. The need for greater ‘engagement’ has been a common message among conflict-resolution experts in recent years and has even been enshrined in official policies. Nevertheless, the trend on the ground suggested a risk of increasing alienation rather than rapprochement. Researchers therefore agreed it was necessary to examine more in-depth the arguments for and against isolation, as well as to explore how a coercive approach narrows the space for constructive engagement.

Both the Georgian and Abkhaz research groups examine the origins and original rationale behind the policy of isolation of Abkhazia, going back to the early 1990s. At the same time, they look at the motivations of different actors and indeed at how effective ‘isolation’ proved to be. Did the policy fulfil its objectives, and what effect did it have on transformation of the conflict? Acknowledging that isolation has only contributed to growing alienation and resentment, the researchers then go on to compare and contrast the recent European strategy of ‘non-recognition and engagement’ and the Georgian ‘Strategy on the Occupied Territories: Engagement through Cooperation’. The authors argue that despite the apparent similarities and complementarities between the two strategies on a superficial level, they actually have quite contrasting aims at their heart which reflect the ‘isolation/de-isolation’ debate. On this matter, both the Georgian and Abkhaz researchers offer a strikingly similar analysis.

(Русский)