Nagorno-Karabakh: A Phantom Republic Takes Center Stage12 Oct 2020
René Wadlow –
From bitter searching of the heart
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part.
This is the faith from which we start
Men shall know commonwealth again
From bitter searching of the heart.
— Frank Scott (1899-1985)
9 Oct 2020 – The Phantom Republics is the name given to the States demanding the status of independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union: Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistea in Moldova, and Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The conflicts in Georgia and Moldova are now “frozen”, but they can “melt” at any time. One might add the Donbass and Luhansk of Ukraine to the list although the aims of the “separatists” are not fully clear: an autonomous status within Ukraine, integration into the Russian Federation, or an independent state.
The Association of World Citizens had in a 14 April 2014 message to the Secretary General of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe welcomed the serious consideration of federalist government structures for Ukraine being proposed both by the then President of Ukraine in a 13 April 2014 statement and by the authorities of the Russian Federation. Since then the conflict has been “frozen” and no new advances have been made on constitutional structures.
As fighting has resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has moved to center stage.
As a first step toward a resolution of the conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh is to have the Phantom Republics be given membership within the United Nations so that their representatives could speak for themselves: Abkahazia, South Ossetia, Transnistra and the Republic of Artsakh, the name given by the Armenian leadership to the Nagorno-Karabakh area. In the Association of World Citizens’ proposal, security would start with a “package deal” for the four entities. Once recognized through U.N. membership, it will be up to each of the Phantom Republics to create economic, social and political ties with its neighbors.
There are obviously oppositions to recognition of each of these states as independent members of the U.N. in particular opposition from the state of which they were once a part. Nevertheless, such a package deal resembles earlier package deals for U.N. membership when countries had been blocked by Cold War tensions. U.N. membership grants recognition of being part of the international community.
To find mutually acceptable forms of government in these conflicts will require political creativity (breaking out of thinking in fixed patterns) and then new forms of constitutional order such as renewed forms of con-federal types of government, greater popular participation in decision making and new forms of protection of minorities.
Flexibility, compromise and cooperation are the hallmarks of success when it comes to resolving conflicts concerning independence and autonomy. There is a need for a healing of past animosities and a growth of wider loyalties. Thus, there is a need to create what has been called a “dialogic community” – a group of people who are concerned with intra-state conflicts, who stress non-violent strategies of conflict resolution and associative methods of problem solving. These are people with political imagination who are willing to think about new institutions, practices, and ways of life. Today, we are in a race between those who would create such a “dialogic community” and those who would use ethnic identity and ethnic myths to mobilize for narrow aims.
Thus, the Phantom Republics can join the U.N. to sit along with such small U.N. members as Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco and San Marino – states born with the restructuring of feudal Europe. It may take some time to turn Abkhazia into a Black Sea Monaco, but inevitably, for economic and social reasons, neighboring states learn to cooperate if they are not able to destroy by war.
￼René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues.