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Constructing the “Abkhazian Issue” in the Georgian Press, 2002-2010

by Khatuna Maisashvili

Drawing on the fieldwork among the Georgian newspapers, in the period of 2002-2010, this article shows how the Georgian media has mediated “The Abkhazian Issue” in a relatively “cool” conflict context. In this case, mediation of the sequels and circumstances of the long-lasting ethno-political conflict coincides with mediation of nationhood and national identity in the era of declining and fragmenting a nation-state. The research aims to identify the construct “Abkhazian Issue” in the media of the parent state, Georgia, to highlight its latent variables and to identify the correlation between the components of this construct and vast social and political discourse in Georgia. The article is based on several research techniques: intensive (in-depth) interviews with eight respondents, content analysis (framing analysis approach) of 1,752 units from Georgian media, with further implication by factor analysis and the experimental designed panel discussion with 12 participants. In result, the key factor of mediation has been identified as a weakness, in general, of both of the parties of the conflict, and especially as a weakness of the breakaway region, Abkhazia, in nation-building, and in its insufficient capabilities to maintain even quasi-independent status. The weakness of Georgia is considered as a result of short-sighted policy, as well as of wasted opportunities for the reintegration and reconciliation with Abkhazia.

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