Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are ramping up their demands for independence. Russian Parliament has asked President Medvedev to approve their bids for secession from Georgia saying they “have legal grounds and are morally justifiable”. So what right does Georgia have to stop them leaving?
The history of the 20th Century is dominated by independence movements in post-colonial regions. Yet every year millions of dollars are spent by countries all over the world to keep regions whose populations would rather leave. The Indian Constitution makes it illegal for states to secede, but is this fair in a democratic country? Much of the 98% muslim population of the Kashmir valley would like to join Pakistan, and this result has some support amongst Indians too.
The US constitution does not deny the right to secesion and Vermont has a sizable secessionist movement. In June a sailor, Stuart Hill declared the independence of “The Crown Dependency of Forvik” on an island off scotland. But Michael Smith (from Utah, USA) on the BBC Cornwall blog demands “tell us what has independence done for anyone…independence is only as good as your income per capita”. So should people be able to claim independence for their home regions, or should it be legal to pressure them to stay?