chapter  7
18 Pages

‘Separatism is the mother of terrorism’: internationalizing the security discourse on unrecognized states PåL KOLSTø AND HELGE BLAKKISRUD

Since unrecognized states are denied membership in virtually all international organizations, they are not bound by the conflict-reducing mechanisms that these organizations provide. No international conventions can be applied on their territory and no effective monitoring is possible (Kolstø 2006). This creates a lack of transparency, which may prove extremely attractive for criminal and other shady businesses. As Thomas de Waal (2003: 246) has remarked with regard to Nagorno Karabakh, ‘None of its laws or institutions were valid outside its own borders, and no foreign diplomats, apart from peace negotiators, set foot there. That was virtually an invitation to become a rogue state.’ Not only may the unregulated status of the unrecognized states affect the lives of their citizens, it may also represent a danger to the outside world, in particular – but not limited to – their immediate neighbours. At least theoretically, however, the logic of non-recognition may also work in the opposite direction. As Nina Caspersen (2008) has pointed out, since the unrecognized states are keenly interested in achieving recognition, they may be prompted to try to prove that they can live up to the standards of democracy, rule of law, and functional statehood no worse and perhaps even better than many recognized states.2 Thus, we cannot make any a priori assumptions about the threat emanating from unrecognized states. Each case must be studied empirically. This chapter discusses how the perceived threats emanating from unrecognized states have been securitized by their respective parent states. The two cases selected for study here are Transnistria (officially known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, with their parent states, Moldova and Azerbaijan. The political class in the parent states is in one respect uniquely placed to monitor developments in the breakaway statelets. It often has much more thorough knowledge about its former province, both its history and current development, than do outside observers, and may be able to provide a corrective to the overly rosy picture that the secessionist regimes are prone to present of themselves. On the other hand, parent-state observers cannot be regarded as unbiased witnesses. They have a direct interest in the elimination of the unrecognized political entity and its re-absorption into the parent state, and that may tempt them to exaggerate the security risk posed by such unrecognized states, in order to attract international support.