Excursus into the past and ... present
06/04/2010 15:17
Vasil Kvirikashvili
"The Club of exsperts"

There is no other territory in Georgia that would be more Georgian than Shida Kartli. These lands that were settled with Ossetians in not faraway past were an ancient home of Georgians. Georgian ethnos was formed here and had been developing since ancient times from which time it is possible to trace ethnic and cultural processes on the Georgian territory. Settlement of Ossetians was due to various political, economical international factors. Ossetians had possibility to share rich Georgian culture, to develop their mother tongue and culture. Nowhere in the world did Ossetians have such possibility. Georgians never were initiators of war with Ossetians. It's a reality. That's why an attempt to unilaterally decide a question of Georgian land on Ossetians' part is a great injustice towards Georgia from political, economical, moral or any other point of view. Objectivity demands to mention that issues of ethnic history of central Caucasus as well as ethnic onomastics and historical geography used to be displayed very superficially or extremely biased in specialized literature. For a long time study of ethnic historic processes that had been taking place in the region were subordinated to subjectivism and was under pressure of "ordered time". And apart from rare exceptions it was quite distanced from principles of solid and unbiased scientific study. With this regards Ossetian historiography especially distinguished itself which was trying in any way to artificially olden an acknowledged date of infiltration of Iranian-language Ossetian ethnos that wedged into central Caucasus as well as to replace universally acknowledged opinion that As-Alans or Alan-Ossetians came later to the region with an absurd theory that Ossetians were there since ancient times.

If once Ossetian scientists themselves were active supporters and defenders of the opinion about formation of Ossetian people as a result of synthesis of North Iranian Scythian-Sarmatian-Alans and indigenous Caucasians that created so-called Koban culture). But later they did not like a thesis about later settlement of a leading component of their ethno genesis – Scythian-Sarmatian and especially Alans and them "becoming Caucasians" later. They actually have already "cancelled" this thesis about ethnic syncretism of Ossetian people and established a view that Ossetians are direct descendants of Scythian-Sarmatian-Alans. They also are very actively involved in "documenting" as though so-called Koban people and Kartvelian people Dvals that lived in central Caucasus belonged to Scythian-Sarmatian-Alan ethnic world.

Ossetian authors are not sparing efforts to somehow bring historical arguments to Ossetians' claims to a Georgian section of central Caucasus and to neighbouring areas of the mentioned section i.e. a territory that is now known as South Ossetia.

Almost all Ossetian historians who claimed be unbiased when telling history of Georgian-Ossetian relationships still were trying to disfigure truth in a concealed way. For example, G. Togoshvili when evaluating position of Georgian authorities of XVII-XVIII centuries mentions: "they were not avert from attempts to completely subdue Ossetians although historical situation was not helping success of these attempts. Campaigns of Giorgi Saakadze, Vakhtang VI, Irakli II against Ossetians were mainly aimed at subjugation of South Ossetians. As to attempts ... to subdue North Ossetians such is not apparent in the mentioned period".

How skillfully the Ossetian author tries to establish a term of "South Ossetia" that was "thrown-in" in XIX century to denote the territory of Shida Kartli of XVII-XVIII century. It turns out that Giorgi Saakadze and later Irakli II were conducting campaigns to subdue South Ossetians. It seems that it was not Ossetians who found shelter and settled on Georgian soil but the entire Ksani and Aragvi gorges, Samachablo and so on is "South Ossetia".

Some Georgian scholars willingly or unwillingly expressed such point of view that caused a lot of confusion in society. In particular, the famous scientist Edisher Khoshtaria - Brosset said: "It is confirmed with documents that Ossetians have been settling compactly in the Tskhinvali region since XVII-XVIII centuries, but does that deprive them of right to live here, despite the fact that they have their historic homeland right there - in North Ossetia? ".

Firstly, whether so-called "North Ossetia" is their historic homeland is another matter. Secondly, when and which Georgians questioned the issue of residence of Ossetians in the Tskhinvali region? There is just one truth. No one forbids Ossetians, as well as other national minorities that have ever settled in Georgia to live here. But in any case they have no right to appropriate Georgian land and build their state unit here.

Ossetian separatists write a lot of nonsense in the Russian press, and in the books published in Russia. They followed Armenians' example and laid a claim to great Georgian commander Giorgi Saakadze. He was declared Ossetian!? As well as the author of "The Knight in Panther's Skin" – Shota Rustaveli.

By the 60s of the XIX century instigator of all misfortunes in Georgia and the Caucasus - Russia managed to conquer the Caucasus at the cost of a long bloody wars and huge losses (approximately 1 million dead warriors). This was the key to an unprecedented strengthening of Russian ethnocentrism and the revival of the Russian spirit.

Descendants of generations brought up in bloody romanticism of the Caucasian wars of XIX-XX have been always struggling to give up their positions in the Caucasus and not to justify the verdict of prof. P. Kovalev: "The Caucasus has been completely conquered and acquired by Russia. But so much blood, so many lives, so much it did cost Russia. And who dares say that it is not its property ... It is our duty to preserve the Caucasus to us in its entirety, totality and undividedness ... it is the duty of our lives before the nation's great power status. And we will do this in spite of words of shameless foreigners".

What one can call all this, if not a classic manifestation of super rigid imperial thinking, outright apology for xenophobia based on the most severe "Scythian logic" of assimilation. According to this logic Russian blood spilt in for conquering the Caucasus is very expensive, while sacrifices of "shameless foreigners (non-Russians)" who had fought against the Russian colonial yoke are not taken into account at all. Russian had the right to pass through the Caucasus with fire and sword as it was in the interest of its "power-state", while Caucasians were not even allowed a negative response to adversities that befell them on their own land!!! After all, they are "Non-Russians" or "natives" and do not deserve an iota of human sympathy and compassion.

The reality is such that in conditions of Russia all countries "carved out" their histories. Ossetians say that Shida Kartli region is homeland of Scythians and Sarmatians, Abkhazia regards western Georgia as Abkhazia and for them ancient Colchis are Abkhazians. If Shida Kartli is Ossetia and western Georgia is Abkhazia, while Kakheti is ancient Azerbaijan, Kvemo Kartli - Armenian territory, then where is Georgia(?!).

Ways for harmonious development exist. Ossetian people, of course, have the right to development of national consciousness. But the Ossetian people gained national consciousness on the territory of the Russian Federation, within the boundaries of their own land - within the historic settlement of Ossetians. And despite this fate decided otherwise and Stalin's system became a tragedy for Georgians, Ingush, Ossetians, and for Russians as well - for all who lived in a "prison of peoples". And that, today we must proceed from the fact that Stalin had created "South Ossetia" in Georgia and did not have time to create a similar in, say, Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan. (And anyway, what a cynical act to create North Ossetia in Russia, and South Ossetia in Georgia). At present, the manipulation of Stalin's will created a problem out of nothing, out of fiction. Illusion was created of existence of what never existed historically, nor had any prospects for existence even in the future both in fact and theory. The existence of so-called "South Ossetia" and therefore only depended on force, violence and profanation of national interests. And despite this, even under totalitarianism Ossetian self-determination on the territory of the so-called "South Ossetia" was more preserved than in North Ossetia. Any non-biased international commission or group of experts could have confirmed this.

Modern international law prohibits national minorities, even small nations, from using self-determination right if they have full political, economic and other equality with the rest of the population living within a sovereign state, and have the opportunity to express freely their political or any other will.

Thus, today self-determination and secession, establishment of an independent state is unacceptable if territorial integrity of sovereign states are not preserved and it violates historical borders, harms national security.

Therefore, aggressive separatism which aims at unilaterally and with use of force violating of territorial integrity of independent states under the pretext of the right of nations (peoples) to self-determination is against international law.

In connection with the above, the term "secession" in international relations is used in some cases to describe an unsuccessful separatist rebellion against the state, including any attempt of national minorities to realize one's right to self-determination – to self-separate from one state in order to join another or, what happens more often, create their own autonomy, or, in general, to obtain autonomy within this very state ...

This article was written based on "South Ossetia" - in Georgia?" by Avtandil Songulashvili

In case of using the material the hypperlink on the Expert Club is obligatory