brdgt: (But Here's What Really Happened by Icono)
[personal profile] brdgt
So, y'all know that I love State Department Travel Warnings, right? They often provide political, economic, and social information that even good news sources don't have the time to get into. Yesterday I was catching up on some while waiting for Nick to talk to his advisor (oh god, that's a whole other post) and really enjoyed the one on Georgia ("enjoyed" in the sense that I love when the warnings are really detailed):

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Georgia. This Travel Warning replaces the one dated December 12, 2008 to note the possibility of violent demonstrations.

American citizens are urged not to travel to the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and to be aware that the potential exists for gunfire, increased risk of crime, and ongoing potential for violence in these and areas adjacent to these regions.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi has limited travel for its employees in areas adjacent to the region of South Ossetia, to include all roads north of the M-1 (East/West Highway) that lead to the region of South Ossetia; areas adjacent to the region of Abkhazia, including the Tsalenjikha District of the Samegrelo Region; and the region of the Pankisi Gorge, north of the city Akhmeta, up to the border with Russia.

Unexploded ordnance continues to pose risks in the areas where fighting took place in August 2008, including around the city of Gori in the direction of the administrative boundary with South Ossetia. Travel in some parts of western Georgia remains unpredictable

American citizens currently in Georgia are urged to continue to review their personal security situations and to take appropriate action to ensure their safety. Given the recent upheaval in Georgia, American citizens should take precautions in case of an increase in violent crime. Demonstrations can occur without notice and even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. The U.S. Embassy advises all Americans in Georgia to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. American citizens are encouraged to remain in close communication with the American Embassy in Tbilisi for more detailed information.

I had no idea how things had developed their recently. Then this morning there is this fascinating article in the New York Times:

Nauru, an eight-square-mile rock in the South Pacific, has about 11,000 inhabitants.

Abkhazia Is Recognized — by Nauru
By ELLEN BARRY, The New York Times, December 16, 2009

MOSCOW — A new player has emerged in the roiling political theater of the Caucasus: the tiny, destitute Pacific island nation of Nauru, which on Tuesday became the fourth country to formally establish diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, effectively recognizing its sovereignty.

The announcement comes 15 months after Russia began lobbying its allies to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two separatist territories at the center of its 2008 war with Georgia.

Nauru, an eight-square-mile rock in the South Pacific with about 11,000 inhabitants, was no pushover, according to the influential Russian daily newspaper Kommersant. In talks with Russian officials, Nauru requested $50 million for “urgent social and economic projects,” the newspaper reported, citing unnamed Russian diplomats.

Igor Lyakin-Frolov, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, would not comment on the report.

Nauru, the world’s smallest republic, has been desperate for income since its most important resource, phosphates formed by centuries of bird droppings, is nearly exhausted. The island has tried housing refugees for Australia and investing millions in a West End musical. (It bombed.)

Recently, it has begun to dabble in foreign-policy hardball. In 2002, Nauru severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, coincident with a reported pledge of $130 million from China. Three years later, it switched again, prompting a Chinese official to grumble that the islanders were “only interested in material gains.”

In any case, the mood in Sukhumi, the Abkhaz capital, was celebratory on Tuesday.

Abkhazia’s foreign minister, Sergei Shamba, said his Nauruan counterpart, Kieren Keke, had promised to secure recognition for Abkhazia from other Pacific island nations. Officials brushed off questions about the island’s negligible economy and population, noting that it was a member in good standing of the United Nations.

“I have been lucky enough in my diplomatic career to sign agreements of diplomatic relations with the largest country in the world, Russia, and today, with the smallest, the republic of Nauru,” Mr. Shamba said, according to the local news agency, Apsnypress.

“In this range,” he added, “we feel ourselves to be a country of medium size.”

Abkhazia, which had previously been recognized by Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, has a population of about 215,000.

It was not clear whether Nauru would make a similar announcement regarding South Ossetia, which Mr. Keke visited over the weekend. South Ossetia’s foreign minister, Murat K. Dzhioyev, would not comment on Tuesday.

The news provoked waves of mirth from Russian commentators, some of whom broke down the per-capita cost of lobbying various nations to recognize the enclaves: roughly $3,500 a head for every resident of Nauru, $100 per Venezuelan, $200 per Belarussian, etc. One blogger called it “nano-recognition for nano-Russia.”

But Sergei Markedonov, a Caucasus specialist at the Institute for Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, said the agreement was a real achievement for Abkhazia, which has actively sought alliances with countries other than Russia. Asked about the reported payment to Nauru, he answered, “If no one paid, why would they come?”

“There is no question of morality here,” Mr. Markedonov said. “It’s the smallest country in the world. It has no potential, just to trade in independence. Independence is a commodity — people will trade it.”

Date: 2009-12-17 10:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good relations between Nauru and Abkhazia are probably related to the fact that one of Nauru's only sources of income is laundering Russian Mafia money. Especially since the Australian government closed down its internment camps there.

Date: 2009-12-17 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
yes, I believe that was the implication of the article.

Date: 2009-12-17 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Although - to be fair, we are talking about a separatist nation, not Russia itself, which I imagine has it's own benefits for the mafia.


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