Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tuvalu Unfriends Abkhazia & South Ossetia in Wake of Crimean Annexation

Tuvalu, one of the smallest nations in the world, retracted this week its diplomatic recognition of two Russian puppet states, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and restored diplomatic ties with the Republic of Georgia, the state most of the world recognizes as having legitimate ownership of the territories.

The two mountainous republics in the South Caucasus achieved de facto independence from Georgia after the fall of communism through ethnic cleansing and the help of Russia.  In 2008, after a brief war with Georgia, Russia established Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “independent states.”  So far they have had diplomatic recognition only from Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and three Pacific island nations: Nauru, Tuvalu, and—briefly and confusingly (as reported in this blog at the time)—Vanuatu.

Taukelina Finikaso, who is Tuvalu’s foreign minister, was in Georgia on March 31st to finalize the transfer of recognition.  Finikaso also holds the cabinet’s trade, tourism, environment, and labor portfolios.  When your country is 10 square miles and has just over 10,000 people, a cabinet minister must wear many hats.  Tuvalu’s main industries are tourism, subsistence fishing, and the leasing out of its coveted Internet domain suffix, “.tv,” which can also stand for “television.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, future king and queen,
visited Tuvalu recently.
Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands before becoming independent of the United Kingdom in 1978, established diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2011.  Before taking over the reins of government in an election last year, Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga had criticized the previous administration’s granting of recognition, which was done without consulting parliament.  But the crisis in Crimea seems to have forced Sopoaga to act more quickly.  With the international community lining up to condemn Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula earlier this month, being a diplomatic partner to the two Caucasus puppet states may prove to be more of a liability than it had been before.  The world is clearly willing to make more of a fuss over Crimea than it ever did over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Russian (left) and South Ossetian flags
Tuvalu, Nauru, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are also among the 22 nations in the world that have diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan)—a closer neighbor of the Pacific nations—rather than with the People’s Republic of China.

The flag of Abkhazia
Georgia’s foreign minister, Maia Panjikidze, said during the signing ceremony (see photo at the top of this article), “Georgia welcomes the establishment of diplomatic relations with Tuvalu and expresses hope that such decision by Tuvalu will become an example for those states, which recognize Georgia’s occupied regions through violating the fundamental principles of international law.”

[You can read more about these and many other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]

1 comment:

  1. Georgia is the puppet of both Russia and the West


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