Xenophobia threatens South Caucasus' security

Xenophobia threatens South Caucasus' security

Current problems of the South Caucasus mostly exist as a result of disintegration trends in the region. Its ethnic diversity determines richness of cultural diversity, and one would think that regional policy should be based on preservation of respect among national communities. This is especially important given the fact that there are still centers of separatism in the region and a high risk of xenophobia.

Today's South Caucasus, divided by ethnic conflicts, has become a fertile ground for destructive forces. Population of Georgia and Armenia is declining - talented and hard working people leave their homeland. Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh hurts sovereignty of Armenia, that's why right now the republic is in a semi-isolated position and it's much more difficult to sell Armenian products due to limited markets and logistical problems. For Azerbaijan, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh also remains an aggravating factor. Baku is developing its export potential, but has to spend significant efforts and funds on attempts to resolve the Karabakh conflict and provide for huge number of internally displaced persons.

Events of recent weeks in Georgia have caused another round of tensions and spread of Russophobic tendencies. Representatives of over dozen nationalities live in the republic, including Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Kurds, Ossetians, Yezidis, Greeks, Assyrians. According to the 2014 census, 1.5% of the population of Georgia are Russians (about 27 thousand people). Legitimization of xenophobic manifestations in politics and the media inevitably leads to more political and ideological tensions. This was especially noticeable during anti-government rallies in Tbilisi in July, during which Georgian opposition in the face of former ruling party United National Movement resorted to policy of pseudo-patriotism, using tense Russian-Georgian relations in their favor. The scandal that followed and insulting speeches broadcasted by leading opposition television channel Rustavi-2 demonstrated unwillingness of the citizens of the republic to support artificial escalation of international relations. At the same time, the ruling Georgian Dream party, which is in crisis, opened up to the idea of forming new coalition.

Spread of ethnic intolerance plays purely instrumental role in destabilizing situation in the region. We can see certain shift in the minds of people if we look at relations of peoples through the prism of what opposition presents. Relations between all peoples without exception are not longer perceived adequately. In this context, the diplomacy of countries of the region comes down to situational reflection and endless attemts to prevent threats from the separatist forces. It's really hard to stop conflicts, since they often spill into endless crises. Under these conditions, it's extremely difficult to fight against xenophobia and extremism, learn to respect representatives of other nations, avoid extreme views and actions, but it's possible by showing tolerance and not following nationalists' ideas.

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