14:57 GMT +317 January 2019
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    Border inviolability versus right to self-determination

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    MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov)

    If somebody were to look at a wall and say that it was both black and white, or if he were to say that he bought a bottle of brandy champagne, he would most likely be certified insane.

    Life is much easier for lawyers and politicians, since the ability to simultaneously say "Yes" and "No" is part of their profession. Even the UN Charter calmly declares two mutually excluding principles - the inviolability of borders and the right to self-determination, though this contradiction has sparked many international conflicts and claimed hundreds of thousands-if not millions- of lives.

    Some conflicts fizzle out, others are settled militarily, but many more keep smoldering, forcing neighboring countries to remain on high alert.

    A host of international mediators - mostly lawyers and politicians - buzz around such pockets of tension, usually only complicating them. This is logical, because their professions are based on double standards, and the decision about which principle to apply to a given case - the inviolability of borders, or the right to self-determination - is usually made to suit the self-serving interests of states or international organizations. The will of the people in the conflict zone, their passions and legitimate interests, are taken into account only when all other interests have been served.

    There are many examples of this approach, and each of them smells of blood. Of the many conflicts in the world, for example in Sudan's western Darfur province, quite a lot are happening in close proximity to Europe, which should by now have accumulated a wealth of experience and enough political and legal instruments to settle them. Unfortunately, this is not so.

    Nobody can honestly tell you why Europe opted to support the self-determination of Kosovo Albanians to the detriment of the inviolability of Serbia's borders. At the same time, European officials think that similar conflicts in the former Soviet states - between Moldova and Transdnestr, or between Georgia and Abkhazia and Ossetia - should be settled in favor of Moldova and Georgia.

    Like Kosovo Albanians, the people of Transdnestr, Abkhazia and South Ossetia took up arms to defend their independence, unwilling to live under the rule of the hated central authorities.

    Due to the contradiction sealed into international law by the UN Charter, some European nations are left out of the common European process, which is bad for them and for the rest of Europe. The lack of international authority has opened the door to criminal activity in many of these "dead zones". For example, Kosovo has become a center for drug trafficking.

    To make matters worse, the lack of economic and intellectual support from other countries is hindering the development of such zones. Blood has been spilled and, unless the problem is solved without delay, may be spilled again.

    The Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia cannot keep the warring sides apart forever. Moldova would absorb Transdnestr if it had the forces to do so, and Georgia under Mikhail Saakashvili does not make a secret of its plans to build up enough military force to take back Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    It is therefore not surprising that the leaders of the three self-proclaimed republics have recently joined together to create a peacekeeping force for the protection of their unrecognized independence.

    South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said: "In the more than 10 years that they have been developing independently, the three republics (Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestr) have proved that they are truly independent states."

    The three leaders added: "The Russian peacekeeping forces should remain in the conflict zones until the conflicts are settled." Kokoity said that if the Russian "blue helmets" were forced to leave, their place would immediately be taken by the joint peacekeeping force of the three republics.

    While the three leaders were signing a relevant agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili, but they failed to come to terms.

    Disregarding the opinion of Abkhazians and Ossetians, Saakashvili said they should be reincorporated into Georgia without delay. Putin tried to convince his counterpart to respect the opinion of the people: "There should be patience and a desire to compromise; the people themselves should express a desire to live together. Conflicts cannot be settled with a knife and a razor."

    The Georgian president did not understand what Putin was trying to tell him, although this should be a copybook maxim for a politician who claims to be a democrat.

    There are other methods of solving problems apart from the sword, as Vaclav Havel proved by peacefully separating the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The current "divorce" of Serbia and Montenegro has also been peaceful, although Belgrade is not happy the Montenegrins are leaving.

    Unfortunately, Saakashvili is not Havel, and so Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestr acted wisely to create a joint peacekeeping force.

    In my opinion, this is not a violation of democratic procedure. The constitution of every truly democratic state includes a provision on self-defense against authorities who work only to suit their own interests, even though this provision may not be easy for laymen to interpret.

    The people of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestr are categorically dissatisfied with the actions of the Georgian and Moldovan authorities, which means that they have a right to self-defense.

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