EU Needs to Establish Criteria of "National Self-determination": Expert of World Association of International Studies at Stanford

Politics Materials 27 August 2008 13:09 (UTC +04:00)

Leading expert Tomoyuki Hashimoto, who is affiliated with World Association of International Studies at Stanford, especially for Trend

First of all, the relationship between Russia and the EU remains somewhat neutral. French and German dependency on Russian gas and oil is undoubtedly important in this diagram. For the EU, there is not many alternative providers - the Middle East is either chaotic or under the US control, and Latin America such as Venezuela does not like the US and thus indirectly Europe. As the international resource market is getting more competitive due to China and India, the Russo-European relationship has to be cooperative regardless of the political rhetoric. The US-Russian relationship is, on the other hand, unpredictable. The presidential election is a key in this uncertain picture. As the US can choose China over Russia as a political/business partner, the US-Russian relationship seems to be negative in the international scene.Second, the recognition of independence does not change the situation per se. Like the situation in Kosovo or the Northern Cyprus, neither South Ossetia nor Abkhazia will be recognized by the United Nations or the majority of European countries. Georgia will continue to influence on the both regions while the people in the both regions will fight against Georgia like before. Other secessionist movements in the Caucasus, some argue, may get encouraged by the recognition. However, NATO and other organization will take harder stance next time, and thus, there would not be another " South Ossetia" in my opinion.Third, Russia now linked South Ossetia with Abkhazia. That means one cannot solve the one problem without solving the other, i.e. the situation became more complicated. It is not so imaginative that those cases are also connected to the situation in Kosovo; the rhetoric goes " Russia won't recognize Kosovo unless those two 'nations' were recognized," for example.At this point, we need to establish the criteria of "national self-determination" - that is who can have own country and who cannot. The European media today is heavily anti-Russian, and thus, people go against the independence of those two regions without question. But the country's sovereignty must be based on people; we must think whether or not the Ossetians have the right to govern themselves, or the Georgians have the right of territorial integration. The difference in ethnicity does not necessarily mean the separate country. China, Indonesia... there are many examples of multi-ethnic nations in the world. So, the Ossetians and the Georgians can live together. On the other hand, many countries have already recognized Kosovo. Then, why not Ossetia?The Russo-Georgian conflict must be dealt within the language of power politics as I have been writing. International law or morality, in my opinion, is not enough to solve the situation because the US is also engaging in the ambiguous case in Iraq. On the other hand, the Ossetian-Georgian conflict (such as recognition of independence) must be dealt within the language of international law.