Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Institute Pushes Recognition of ‘Newest States’ in ‘Near Abroad’

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 5 – The director of an independent Moscow institute established just before the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war and which has promoted the diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since that time now says that international recognition of the independence of Transdniestria and Nagorno-Karabakh is “inevitable.”
In a comment to the Regnum news agency yesterday, Aleksey Martynov not only made this declaration but elaborated an original legal theory on post-Soviet state construction, one that is clearly at odds with Moscow’s declared position but one that likely has supporters in the Russian capital (www.regnum.ru/news/1332158.html).
The director of the Institute of the Newest States, as his organization styles itself, argues that “the recognition by Russia of the statehood of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in June 2008 and the upcoming recognition of the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic and Nagorno-Karabakh put the final period in the history of the USSR.”
That is because, Martynov said, “Transdniestria and Nagorno-Karabakh like Abkhazia and South Ossetia politically and legally need only recognition by Russia as the legal successor of the USSR. Subsequently, the entire world will simply be obligated to recognize these countries just as it recognizes the Russian Federation.”
If the members of the international community do not follow Russia’s lead in this, he continued, the director of this institute which has offices in Moscow and many other cities and maintains its own website in Russian and English (www.iines.org/), that would mean their “non-recognition of Russia itself with all the consequences that would flow from that.”
The reason for that, he argued, is that “not one of these newest recognized countries [the former union republics of the USSR] has taken upon itself responsibility for the common Soviet past” preferring instead “to condemn and curse it. Only Russia [which has done so] can as the metropolitan country decide the fate of the newest states in the zone of its strategic interests.”
“After the establishment of the Kosovo precedent” by the Western powers, Martynov continued, “any references to the priority of territorial integrity” need not be recognized. “Borders of states in the contemporary world” are defined by their capacity to prevent their further change, something that can of course be tested at any time.
Elsewhere in his interview, the director pointed to what he clearly viewed as his institute’s latest success, and he did so in a way that highlighted its connections with the Russian powers that be. Martynov noted that last week, a representative of South Ossetia had visited Algeria at the same time as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev,
“Such coincidences in the time of the visits,” he argued, “are far from being accidental.” But to the extent that is the case, his institute might appear to fall into the category of a GONGO, that is “a government organized non-governmental organization,” one capable of promoting the government’s goals without the government having to take responsibility.
And if that is true, then the argument Martynov put forth yesterday may represent something more than the views of a single independent activist. Instead, it perhaps should be read as one part of a debate behind the scenes in Moscow as to how the Russian Federation should proceed in the future in its “near abroad.”
According to its website, “the International Institute of the Newest States is an international non-governmental organization that was created in June 2008 by a group of scholars, political scientists and international experts in the areas of conflict studies and international law” (www.iines.org/node/1).
The institute’s headquarters is in Moscow, but it has representational offices in “Kyiv, Warsaw, Simferopol, Tskhinval, Sukhum, Yerevan, Tiraspol, Western Sahara, Bucharest, Belgrad, Stepanakert and other places.” And it styles itself as “the largest expert discussion space for consideration and study of the phenomenon of the appearance of the newest states.”
The institute, the site continues, organizes “scientific conferences, symposia, and roundtables, the monitoring of social-political development of the newest states and monitoring of the media.” And it supports “the publication of materials and books of [Institute] experts” on these states and “the formation of democratic institutions and civil societies” in them.

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