JN: In 1989, the Soviet Union was already collapsing, and the Georgians were thinking more about their own nationalism and culture, which also made the two smaller ethnic regions�the Ossetians and Abkhazians who speak their own language�slightly nervous and feel perhaps they should think about self-determination. (To get back to Georgia's independence, in Tbilisi 1989 there was a protest for independence from the Soviet Union. What happened at that protest?) The Soviet Army went in to quell the protesters and nine people were killed. It was a moment at which Georgians decided they no longer wanted to be part of the Soviet Union. (And that didn't go over well with the Soviet Union.) It was a hugely shocking moment for Georgia, and a nationalist politician became Georgia's first president in 1990. (In 1994 then, Boris Yeltsin made the first diplomatic venture from a Russian president to Georgia, and Russia was saying for the first time the two countries were coordinating its strategic interests as two independent countries. At the time also, Georgia's President was a man who during 1989 justified the Russian crackdown in Georgia. How did that happen?) There was civil war inside Georgia when the first president was ousted, and then Georgia entered into another war with Abkhazia which also wanted to break away. (Was the Georgian president Russia's puppet then?) I wouldn't say that, but the war with Abkhazia was very tough for Georgia. (Yeltsin said the two countries needed to cooperate to settle the conflicts in the region, and he encouraged Georgia to grant more autonomy to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Was that autonomy ever granted?) No, they've basically been a state of frozen conflict, and there have been plenty of Georgian peacekeeping troops in the area ever since. (Now in 2004, Georgia's President held out a conciliatory hand towards South Ossetia. What has happened in the past couple days now, and why are these regions still a part of Georgia if they cause so much trouble for Georgia?) The current president of Georgia promised to sort out Georgia's territorial integrity. The tragedy of the situation now is that the situation is even worse than in 1991, and it's going to be a long and slow process to get everyone together and try to sort things out.

Related Stories