The role of scholars in the Abkhazians' loss of trust in the Georgians and how to remedy the situation, in Mehmet Tütüncü (ed.) Caucasus: War and Peace. The New World Disorder and Caucasia, pp.115-125, 1998 (Haarlem, SOTA).
Being privileged to hold the only full-time academic post in the UK for Caucasian languages, I openly confess my simple and firm conviction that anyone with a professional concern for the languages of the Caucasus should be actively engaged in helping to preserve them. This may (regrettably) mean that on occasions, rather than take the easy option of looking the other way and remaining silent, one has to speak out when the survival of one Caucasian group is threatened by the actions of others (even when those others are fellow-Caucasians). It was adherence to this belief which led to my involvement in the developing Georgian-Abkhazian crisis of 1989 and which has conditioned my statements and/or writings on the topic ever since; in no way was I motivated by anti-Georgian sentiment, even if this to some was a convenient accusation. If my wishes for the well-being of the region's languages and speakers means that I have to criticise Georgian behaviour towards Abkhazia (or, to take a different example, Georgian attitudes on the ethnic identity of Mingrelians, Svans and Laz, namely that they are 'Georgians'), then I shall voice those criticisms, convinced that encouragement (even through silence) of Georgian views in these matters is ultimately not in the best interests of even Georgians themselves.
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