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Award Detail

Awardee:REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, THE
Doing Business As Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
PD/PI:
  • John V O'Loughlin
  • (303) 492-6517
  • John.Oloughlin@colorado.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Michael D Ward
  • Gerard Toal
Award Date:09/18/2008
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 749,970
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 759,970
  • FY 2008=$749,970
  • FY 2010=$10,000
Start Date:10/01/2008
End Date:09/30/2014
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:AOC: The Dynamics of Secessionist Regions: Eurasian Unrecognized Quasi-States after Kosovo's Independence
Federal Award ID Number:0827016
DUNS ID:007431505
Parent DUNS ID:007431505
Program:HSD - AGENTS OF CHANGE
Program Officer:
  • Brian Humes
  • (703) 292-7284
  • bhumes@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:3100 Marine Street, Room 481
City:Boulder
State:CO
ZIP:80303-1058
County:Boulder
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
Street:3100 Marine Street, Room 481
City:Boulder
State:CO
ZIP:80303-1058
County:Boulder
Country:US
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Quasi-states are secessionist regions that have established internal territorial sovereignty but lack widespread recognition and legitimacy as states. Despite their tenuous and contested status, such regions have long been features of world political maps. A U.S-Russian research team will focus on four quasi-states in the Balkans-Black Sea region - Kosovo, Transdniester Moldovan Republic (TMR) in Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. These sites were chosen because of research access, contrasting historical experiences, sources of dispute between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic community, and the varied implementation of international norms of refugee protection and recognition of self-determination. Two fundamental research and policy concerns are raised by quasi-states. First, how and why do certain quasi-states endure and, second, why are some more successful at accumulating legitimacy than others? The contested declaration of independence by Kosovo in early 2008 and concern about a precedent effect render these questions particularly timely. The establishment of internal and external legitimacy in the wake of wars that defined the political unit is a key factor in accounting for the robustness of quasi-states. The specific research questions include: a) What is the character and localized distribution of the agricultural, industrial, trade, social and political dynamics of the unrecognized quasi-states? b) What factors (war experience, governance structure, nation-building and identity construction, migration or displacement, border relations and international control) helps explain these distributions? c) How do state-aspirant elites work across a variety of scales to promote legitimacy, in the wake of the Kosovo precedent? d) How appropriate is it to make comparisons between these 4 cases? e) How does the enduring of quasi-states affect global norms concerning ethnic cleansing and violence? To overcome potential difficulties in accessibility and reliability, a multi-methods data gathering approach has been adopted to examine the internal legitimacy of quasi-states across a variety of scales. This includes public opinion sampling of about 1000 persons in each study site (among both residents of the quasi-states and the displaced populations), focus group discussions (including about 400 persons in all) and elite interviews. Public and unpublished statistical data are also analyzed in a geographical information system, incorporating land cover change derived from repeat Landsat satellite imagery over the past 20 years. The four frozen conflicts are outcomes of civil wars in the 1990s that were characterized by ethnic cleansing, destruction of infrastructure, and deteriorating relations between the countries from which the secessionist quasi-states splintered and external supporters (Russia in three of the cases). The quasi-states themselves are often marked as grey zones of smuggling (especially drugs and weapons), money laundering, border violations, transit points of terrorists, and refuges of criminals beyond the reach of international law. Without more information about the conditions inside the quasi-states (level of legitimacy with their own populations, the extent and nature of their contacts with the supporting countries, the willingness of the populations to accept territorial compromises or other settlement options, the level of inter-ethnic distrust, and border controls), policy formation and implementation is significantly removed from "facts on the ground".

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Gerard Toal and John O?Loughlin "Land for Peace in Nagorny Karabakh? Political Geographies and Public Attitudes Inside a Contested De Facto State" Territory, Politics, Governance, v.1, 2013, p.158.

Laurence Broers and Gerard Toal "Cartographic Exhibitionism? Visualizing the Territory of Armenia and Karabakh?" Problems of Post-Communism, v.60, 2013, p.16.

Gerard Toal and John o'Loughlin "Land for Peace in Nagorny Karabakh? Political Geographies and Public Attitudes inside a Contested De Facto State" Territory, Governance, Politics, v.1, 2013, p.DOI:10.10.

Gerard Toal and Magdalena Grono "After Ethnic Violence in the Caucasus: Attitudes of Local Abkhazians and Displaced Georgians in 2010" Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.52, 2011, p.65.

Laurence Broers and Gerard Toal "Cartographic exhibitionism Visualizing the Territory of Armenia and Karabakh" Problems of Post-Communism, v.60, 2013, p.16.

John O'Loughlin, Edward Holland and Frank Witmer "The changing violence of the Caucasus and its spread to Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria" Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.52, 2011, p.513.

Toal Gerard "Russia's Kosovo: A critical geopolitics of the August 2008 war over south Ossetia" Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.49, 2008, p.670. doi:10.2747/1539-7216.49.6.670 

Vladimir Kolossov and John O'Loughlin "After the wars in the South Caucasus state of Georgia: Economic insecurities and migration in the â??de factoâ?? states of Abkhazia and South Ossetiaâ??," Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.52, 2011, p.63.

John O'Loughlin, Edward Holland and Frank Witmer "The Changing Geography of Violence in the North Caucasus of Russia, 1999-2011: Regional Trends and Local Dynamics in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria" Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.52, 2011, p.596.

Gerard Toal ""Republika Srpska will have a referendum": The rhetorical politics of Milorad Dodik" Nationalities Papers, v.41, 2013, p.166.

John O'Loughlin, Gerard Toal and Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga "Divided space, divided attitudes: Comparing the Republics of Moldova and Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) using simultaneous surveys" Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.54, 2013, p.227.

J.O'Loughlin, V. Kolossov and G.Toal "Inside Abkhazia: A survey of attitudes in a de facto state" Post-Soviet Affairs, v.27, 2011, p.1.

Kristin M. Bakke, John O?Loughlin, Gerard Toal, and Michael D. Ward "Convincing State-Builders? Disaggregating Internal Legitimacy in Abkhazia" International Studies Quarterly, v.57, 2014, p.DOI: 10.1.

Gerard Toal and John O'Loughlin "Inside South Ossetia: A survey of attitudes in a de facto state" Post-Soviet Affairs, v.29, 2013, p.136.

G Toal and Adis Maksic "Is Bosnia-Herzegovina Unsustainable? Implications for the Balkans and the European Union" Eurasian Geography and Economics, v.52, 2011, p.279.

John O'Loughlin and Frank Witmer "The diffusion of conflicts in the North Caucasus of Russia, 1999-2010" Environment and Planning A, v.44, 2012, p.2379.


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The main motivation for De Facto State Research Project was to gather comparative insights on the beliefs and attitudes of their residents.  We believe that the lives of ordinary citizens are generally ignored in the geopolitical discussions that involve the parent and patron states, as well as major powers beyond the region.  We have portrayed the major divisions along nationality lines because this is still the most important fracture within the de facto states.  While there are some significant generational differences in income, the best predictor of political and social attitudes is still the ethnic one.  Though the ethnic factor is not significant internally in Nagorny Karabakh and South Ossetia since both territories are completely dominated by the titular group, it remains very important in Abkhazian politics and less so in Transnistria. 

The overall impression of the public opinion  surveys is that most residents of the four de facto states are positively disposed towards Russia and appreciate the protection offered by its armed forces stationed on their territories.  They show a high level of support of state institutions and the governmental efforts to shape legitimacy seem to be yielding the expected results.  The chances of reconciliation with the parent states' governments and people are generally low, except in Transnistria where the level of violence was much lower at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Eventual unification with Russia (Armenia in the case of Karabakh) is the aspiration of more residents than other options, including the independence one, but this preference varies a lot by nationality in Abkhazia.  Both security and economic motivations underlie this predilection.

This research helps to inform US foreign policy and engagement with the separatist regimes of the four de facto states. While the US policy and immediate focus is to ensure the continued smooth transition to independence in Kosovo and to continue to support Georgia and Moldova in their efforts to reclaim control of their lost territories, reliable information aboutthe beliefs of people who live in the separatist zones is hard to come by. It is clear that without more information about the conditions inside the de facto states - their level of legitimacy with their own populations, the extent and nature of their contacts with the patron states, the willingness of the populations to accept territorial compromises or other settlement options, the relative level of inter-ethnic social distances, and the conditions of border interactions –  policy formation is significantly separated from ‘facts on the ground’. For the international community in its search for settlement options, this information is also important for consideration of which policy initiatives for peace are likely to bear fruit and which will meet more resistance.  


Last Modified: 12/31/2014
Modified by: John V O'loughlin

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