Minorities in the South Caucasus: New Visibility amid Old Frustrations

27-06-2014

One of the most multi-ethnic regions on Europe’s periphery, the South Caucasus’s bumpy path to democracy has often been accompanied by ethnic conflict, stoked by nationalism. Since acquiring independence from the Soviet Union, secessionist movements have grown among local minorities in the areas surrounding the countries’ new, sovereign borders. The lack of state mechanisms to channel such sentiments has led to violent ethnic clashes with long-lasting consequences. Today still, a lack of experience in conflict resolution and powersharing between dominant and minority communities hinders the development of common ground and democratic co-existence. Mechanisms which promote parliamentary representation, law-making and the oversight of minority rights are still largely absent. Although reforms in the South Caucasus have pushed for new laws to create greater accountability, instruments promoting inclusive dialogue with the minorities require further development. For the minorities of the South Caucasus, the most pressing issues are a lack of respect and the protection of their rights. For the sake of state-building and democratic development of the region, inclusive policies must be implemented with respect to ethnic minorities, through their political participation, including them in the higher levels of decision-making.

One of the most multi-ethnic regions on Europe’s periphery, the South Caucasus’s bumpy path to democracy has often been accompanied by ethnic conflict, stoked by nationalism. Since acquiring independence from the Soviet Union, secessionist movements have grown among local minorities in the areas surrounding the countries’ new, sovereign borders. The lack of state mechanisms to channel such sentiments has led to violent ethnic clashes with long-lasting consequences. Today still, a lack of experience in conflict resolution and powersharing between dominant and minority communities hinders the development of common ground and democratic co-existence. Mechanisms which promote parliamentary representation, law-making and the oversight of minority rights are still largely absent. Although reforms in the South Caucasus have pushed for new laws to create greater accountability, instruments promoting inclusive dialogue with the minorities require further development. For the minorities of the South Caucasus, the most pressing issues are a lack of respect and the protection of their rights. For the sake of state-building and democratic development of the region, inclusive policies must be implemented with respect to ethnic minorities, through their political participation, including them in the higher levels of decision-making.