Meeting with Paul Kolste« Back
December 14, 2017 in the Institute of CIS countries a meeting with Professor of Russian History and Culture of the University of Oslo Paul Kolste (Pal Kolste) took place. Initially it was assumed that Helge Blakkisrud would also take part in this meeting, but she fell ill. From the side of the Institute of CIS countries Vladimir Evseev, deputy director, and Daria Kharitonova, a researcher of the department of Eurasian integration and development of the SCO, took part in the meeting.
Paul Kolste is well known among Russian experts studying post-Soviet space. He repeatedly visited Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. He has a large number of publications on these republics in the Western media.
Paul Kolste was very interested in the issue of the relationship between the unrecognized states and their so-called patron state (Russia - for Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria, Armenia - for Nagorno-Karabakh). In my answer, I explained that in reality the unrecognized (partially recognized) countries are not client states. Thus, the process of transition to a parliamentary form of government is now being completed in Armenia. On this way, they originally wanted to go to Nagorno-Karabakh. But after the war in April, 2016, Stepanakert decided to move to the presidential form of government, which was confirmed in February 2017 at the last referendum.
Nowadays Nagorno-Karabakh is in many ways a self-sufficient state with a high level of democracy. In particular, this republic has reserves of non-ferrous metals, its own hydropower and good agricultural lands. In military terms, Nagorno-Karabakh has an extremely high mobilization readiness, and its fleet of armored vehicles is comparable to a similar park of the armed forces of Armenia. In the matter of the exchange of territories, Stepanakert's position is no less important than Yerevan's position; therefore, it is necessary to return the process of discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh problem to a trilateral format with the participation of Artsakh representatives. This is exactly what was recorded in the relevant treaties of 1994-1995.
Paul Colste asked me to comment on the information that, according to Western sources, the budgets of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika, the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia are funded by the Russian side at 50%, 70% and 90-95% respectively. I noted that these data are overstated. Thus, Alexander Skakov from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences asserts that in 2018 the budget of the Republic of Abkhazia will amount to 9 billion 602 million rubles, including 4 billion 292 million Russian subsidies. Consequently, the Russian Federation provides only 45% of the financing of this republic.
During the meeting, the problem of interethnic relations in Abkhazia was also discussed (for other unrecognized and partially recognized republics of the post-Soviet space this problem is less relevant). I noted that in Abkhazia there is, for example, the problem of relations between Abkhazians and Armenians, but it is not insurmountable.
Thus, the fact of the meeting at the Institute of CIS countries with the Norwegian expert testifies to the international prestige of our institute, which is undoubtedly one of the leading Russian organizations for studying the post-Soviet space. In connection with this, it is advisable to consider the question of continuing the Institute's cooperation with leading European centers, including with the objective of informing the public about the situation in the CIS space.