Discordant Neighbours: A Reassessment of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian Conflicts


The 2008 Georgian-Russian war focused the world’s attention on the Caucasus. South Ossetia and Abkhazia had been de facto independent since the early 1990s. However, Russia’s granting of recognition on 26 August 2008 changed regional dynamics.

The Caucasus is one of the most ethnically diverse areas on earth, and the conflicts examined here present their own complexities. This book sets the issues in their historical and political contexts and discusses potential future problems.

This volume is distinguished from others devoted to the same themes by the extensive use the author (a Georgian specialist) makes of Georgian sources, inaccessible to most commentators. His translated citations thus cast a unique and revealing light on the interethnic relations that have fuelled these conflicts.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
B. George Hewitt, Ph.D. (1982) in Linguistics, University of Cambridge, FBA, is Professor of Caucasian Languages at SOAS (London University). He has published widely on Georgian and other Caucasian languages (notably Abkhaz) and has written extensively on the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.
Plan of the Book
Note on Transcription
Chapter One: Introduction
Peoples and their Languages; Non-Caucasian Peoples and Languages of the Caucasus;
Caucasian Peoples and Languages; North West Caucasian; South Caucasian/
Kartvelian; Nakh-Daghestanian; States; Georgia (in Georgian sakartvelo); Abkhazia
(in Abkhaz Apsny); South Ossetia (in Ossetic Xussar Iryston).
Chapter Two: History
Greeks Colonise the Eastern Black Sea Coast; The Roman Period; The Abkhazian
Kingdom and Dynastic Union with Georgian-speaking Lands; Breakup of the
Mediaeval Georgian Kingdom; Post-Mongol Abkhazia; Mediaeval Ossetians;
Turkish and Persian Encroachment; Russia’s Encroachment and Tsarist Rule;
Georgia’s Attention Turns towards Abkhazia; Beginnings of Mingrelianisation;
Post-Revolutionary Abkhazia and Independent (Menshevik) Georgia; South Ossetians
under the Mensheviks Georgia’s 1921 Menshevik Constitution and Loss of
Independence; Abkhazia’s Status 1921-1931; Creation of the South Ossetian
Autonomous Region (1922); Death of Nestor Lakoba and Implementation of Stalin’s
Nationality Policy; Deportations: Actual or Threatened; Genesis of the ‘Ingoroq’va
Hypothesis’; Abkhazians Start to Voice their Grievances; Summation of the Period
Chapter Three: Perestrojka, Glasnost' and the Road to War in Georgia
Georgian Dissidents Take Advantage of Glasnost'; Results of Glasnost' in Abkhazia
and South Ossetia; The ‘Abkhazian Letter’; Georgia’s Draft Language-Law;
Reason for Ingoroq’va’s Non-election to the Georgian Academy; Tit-for-tat
Exchanges Begin in the Press; The ‘Lykhny Declaration’ (Abkhazia) and the
Reaction; The 9th-April Tragedy (Tbilisi); Anti-Abkhazian Agitation Intensifies;
Revival of the ‘Ingoroq’va Hypothesis’ (and Variants); The ‘War of Linguists and
Historians’; Moves to Open a Branch of Tbilisi State University in Sukhum;
Georgia Experiences its First Fatal Inter-ethnic Clashes; Tensions Rise Even
Further After the July Deaths; Andrej Sakharov’s ‘Mini-empires’ and Inevitable
Backlash; Viktor Popkov’s Corrective; Death of K’ost’ava. Attention Shifts to South
Ossetia; New Leadership for Abkhazia’s National Movement; Tbilisi Sets Out
Towards Independence and the Reaction in Abkhazia and South Ossetia;
Restoration of Abkhazia’s Republican Status of the 1920s and Tbilisi’s Reaction;
South Ossetia Moves to Raise its Status; New Union Treaty Proposed in Moscow;
Gamsakhurdia Becomes Supreme Soviet Chairman. Moscow’s Reaction and 1st War
in South Ossetia; Gorbachëv’s 17th-March 1991 Referendum for Reshaping the Union;
Gamsakhurdia and Yeltsin Gain their Respective Presidencies, and Gorbachëv’s Fall;
South Ossetia Rescinds its Compromise Offer; New Electoral Law in Abkhazia;
USSR Disintegrates and USA Recognises Georgia; Gamsakhurdia Overthrown and
Civil War in Mingrelia; Relations Between Tbilisi’s Military Council and
Abkhazia/South Ossetia; Postscript; Summation.
Chapter Four: Relations with Post-Communist Georgia under Eduard Shevardnadze
Upsurge Followed by Ceasefire in South Ossetia; Attention Shifts to Mingrelia and
Abkhazia; Georgia’s International Profile Rises Under Shevardnadze; War in
Abkhazia; First Ceasefire; The Battle for Gagra; Never-to-be-forgotten Incidents in
Sukhum and above Lat’a; Second Ceasefire; Third Ceasefire; Abkhazians Victorious
in the War; ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ or ‘Ethnic Flight’?; Georgia on the Brink; Reality
Dawns on the Abkhazians; Start of Formal Peace-Talks; Periodisation of the
Negotiations; Abkhazia’s 1994 Constitution; Shevardnadze Elected President;
Terrorism in Abkhazia; The Squeeze on Abkhazia Tightens; Further Georgian Assault
Repulsed (May 1998); Georgia Strengthens Ties to Europe; Shevardnadze’s Star No
Longer in the Ascendant; Abkhazia Finally Declares Independence; Attempts at
Confidence-Building Continue; Fall of Shevardnadze; Developments in South Ossetia
Under Shevardnadze
Treaty on the Principles for Mutual Relations between the Republic of
Abkhazia and the Republic of Georgia (Proposal for the Project)
The State Flag of Abkhazia (designed in 1992 by Valerij Gamgia); Coat
of Arms; The State Flag of South Ossetia; Coat of Arms; Flags of Post-Communist
Declaration on measures for a political settlement of the Georgian/Abkhaz
Quadripartite Agreement on Voluntary Return of Refugees and Displaced
Persons (Annex II)
Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and
Sukhum (The So-called ‘Boden Document’)
Measures to Ensure Security and Strengthen Mutual Trust between the
Sides in the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict
Chapter Five: Relations with Georgia under Mikheil Saak’ashvili
The ‘Rose Revolution’; Saak’ashvili Vows to Restore Georgia’s Territorial Integrity;
Ach’ara Reintegrated; Saak’ashvili Moves Against South Ossetia; Kokoiti’s
Initiatives; Political Developments in Abkhazia; Georgia and the Ukraine Voice
NATO Aspirations; ‘The Key to the Future’; Tensions Rise over the K’odor Valley;
Russo-Georgian Relations Deteriorate Further; Abkhazia Withdraws from the Peace-
Talks; Saak’ashvili Re-elected President; Aftermath of Kosovo’s Recognition; War
in South Ossetia (2008); Abkhazia Opens Second Front; Recognition of South Ossetia
and Abkhazia; Who Began the War?; Georgia Examines Georgian Actions; The
Tagliavini’s Commission’s Findings; Self-Deception as Possible Explanation for
Tbilisi’s Actions?; The Days are Numbered for the UN and OSCE Presence in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia; The Geneva Process Begins; Abkhazia and South
Ossetia Strengthen International Ties; Abkhazia’s 2009 Presidential Election;
Post-Recognition Existence; Tbilisi Resumes its Belligerent Stance; ‘State Strategy on
[the] Occupied Territories’; Further Anti-Russian Moves in Georgia: Tbilisi Cultivates
the North Caucasus; Georgian Launches a New TV-channel; Abkhazia’s Census
(2011); Unanticipated Developments in Abkhazia (2011); Problems Within the
Abkhazian Church; Abkhazia’s President Ankvab Survives Assassination-attempt;
South Ossetia Gains New President; A New Figure in Georgian Politics; Onward to
Chapter Six: Foreign Involvement
A Centuries-old Attraction; Early Missions by The Unrepresented Nations and
Peoples’ Organisation and International Alert; Paul Henze’s Later ‘Contributions’;
Double Standards; The Role of the UN and OSCE (earlier CSCE); (International)
NGOs; NGOs in South Ossetia; The Georgian Economy; Turkey; Europe; The USA;
The Commonwealth of Independent States; Russia
US Assistance to Georgia 1992 to 2009 (in 3 parts)
Chapter Seven: Conclusions and Lessons Learnt — or Not!
Georgia; Abkhazia; South Ossetia; International Community; Postscript

Anyone interested in (Trans)Caucasian politics and/or history, (post-)Soviet studies, ethno-territorial conflict, nationalism, conflict-resolution, human rights, and the preservation of minorities and their languages.
  • Collapse
  • Expand