عنوان مقاله [English]
Generally in the literature of political science and international relations, autonomy has been viewed as an effective way to manage conflicts and tensions between ethnic minorities and the central government, and to regulate relations between them. Ethnic and territorial autonomy is not a new way of managing the relations of the center and ethnic minorities; but in recent years, with the importance of issues such as regional and international peace and stability, most of the countries that are faced with ethnic diversity within their borders are increasingly focusing on this way for managing the demands of their ethnic groups. This is common practice, especially in developed countries, where democracy and democratic principles and structures are the basis of behavior and political action. Hence, the autonomous regions around the world are many. Quebec, Basque, Catalonia, Tibet, and so on, are among the autonomous regions in the world. But the important issue about autonomy is the emergence of ethno-territorial separatism, which many thinkers in the international relations consider as one of the consequences of autonomy. Therefore, there can be a broad scholarly gap in the study of the relation between autonomy and separatism. Many researchers have argued that ethnic autonomy in most cases has been an appropriate option for answering the demands of ethnic groups and a desirable way for ethnic groups to benefit from freedom and rights of their distinctive identities and to create a calm relationship between these groups and the central government. In contrast, others believe that the autonomy leads to the radicalization of the demand of ethnic groups from the center and the intensification of the separatist tendencies of these groups and the incomplete territorial integrity of a country. Another group also believes that in examining the relationship between autonomy and the separatism, the central issue is the central government's action in abolishing the autonomy of the autonomous groups. This theory is known as the “lost autonomy theory”, and believes that the central government, by abolishing the autonomy of autonomous ethnic groups, intensifies the separation process of these groups. Therefore, among these theoretical debates and according to the third perspective, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the effect of the role of governments in the face of the autonomy and its relation to separatism, as well as the study of the relationship between separatism and autonomy.
On the other hand, one of the areas that is considered as a valuable field in studying the phenomenon of autonomy and separatism is the independent states of the Soviet Union. In general, autonomous regions have been very much in the Soviet Union. In fact, because the territory of the Soviet Union has historically been the home of many ethnic groups, autonomy was used by the Soviet centralized system to regulate the demands of these groups and manage their relations with the dominant ethnic groups. In the centralized and hierarchical system of the Soviet Union, entities such as the autonomous republics, autonomous regions, and autonomous oblasts were dominated by the union republics. In the final years of the Soviet Union, and with the intensification of the process of separatist tendencies among the ethnic groups, the autonomous regions, with regard to the status of autonomy, moved in the way of territorial separation. The actions of the governments of union republics with the autonomous groups also intensified the separatist tendencies of these groups. Indeed, autonomy has become a factor in the emergence and intensification of the separatist process in post-Soviet space. Meanwhile, one of the countries faced with the issue of autonomy in the last years of the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet era is the Republic of Georgia. During the Soviet Union, this country had two autonomous republics, Ajaria and Abkhazia, and an autonomous oblast, South Ossetia. These entities, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, moved toward territorial separation. Therefore, in this article, the relation between the autonomy and separatism and the status of the autonomous regions in the Republic of Georgia as well as the Post-Soviet separatism in this country have been analyzed.
Therefore, the main question of this paper is this: What is the relation between autonomy and separatism in international relations? And what is the effect of autonomy on the ethnic group separatism? In the findings section of this research, the article endeavors to examine the effect of abolishing the autonomy as an independent variable on separatism as an associated variable. In the following, hypothesis of this article is that giving autonomy to ethnic groups does not lead to radical tendencies and separatism; however, in general, increases the possibility of separatism; but the important issue is that the central government's action in abolishing the autonomy of ethnic groups increases the likelihood of violent separatism. In this paper, using the descriptive-analytical method, the authors have tried to study this hypothesis in association with the two autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the Republic of Georgia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia as two autonomous entities expressed their nationalist tendencies in the 1980s, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, these tendencies became more violent. Tbilisi's actions in relation to these tendencies and in particular the implementation of intense policies in relation to these groups, have led to an intensification of separatist tendencies in these areas and ultimately to their war with the central government in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.