Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Authored by: Donnacha Ó Beacháin

Routledge Handbook of State Recognition

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815354871
eBook ISBN: 9781351131759
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the struggle of Abkhazia and South Ossetia for securing international recognition and the vital role of Russia as their most important partner. The chapter shows that lack of recognition created significant challenges for these two de facto states, as did building a state in the immediate aftermath of wars that aroused little international interest. The chapter argues that Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s status as partially recognised states is less the result of pursuing a particular foreign policy and much more the product of international events, such as the recognition of Kosovo, that the Abkhazians or Ossetians were unable to control or direct. The number of recognitions would have been significantly greater had it not been for the US and EU’s exertions on Tbilisi’s behalf. Ultimately, recognition depends less on a state’s relations with Georgia or Abkhazia/South Ossetia than on with Russia and the West. The chapter concludes by casting a critical overview of the future of these two partially recognised states in Caucasus region.

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