Prof. George Hewitt

The Art (or Politics?) of Reviewing

I was initially approached for a paper on the Georgian-Abkhazian dispute in the summer of 1991 for the New York "Nationalities' Journal". At that time Abkhazia was striving to achieve a new, constitutionally-based  modus vivendiwith the Georgian authorities in Tbilisi following the clashes with fatalities that had occurred in Sukhum and Ochamchira in July 1989. I had made it abundantly clear in the summer of 1989 that I had no truck with the unbridled voices of Georgian nationalism that were in the ascendancy at the time, whilst I found the way that social activists and intellectuals in Abkhazia were presenting their case in the face of the onslaught across the whole Georgian media or in a variety of Georgian publications both dignified and convincing. In putting together the original article it was my intention to present a comprehensive background to the problem in terms of ethnicity, history, and demography, detailing the arguments offered by both sides in support of their contradictory cases. This approach I deemed essential (a) since Western audiences knew little or nothing of the parties concerned, and (b) in order to do justice to the demands of objectivity. Since, however, I personally do not find the Georgian case stands up to scrutiny, being often based on manipulation or distortion of facts -- and I have spent a significant amount of time over the years reading what many Georgian spokesmen have written on this question in their own language, something that hardly any Western commentator can do, whilst those who can are largely ignorant of, or uninterested in, the Abkhazian point of view --, my sympathies will have become quickly obvious to any reader.

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