Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 23:01 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 23:01 | SYDNEY

Vanuatu strange bedfellow


Rodger Shanahan


7 June 2011 16:51

I'm no South Pacific specialist, nor am I an expert on the former Soviet Union, but when those two worlds collide, I think it's only fair that someone should highlight the fact. And in our very own backyard, Vanuatu has been doing its best to bring the attention of Georgians to our quiet diplomatic backwater. 

Tbilisi must be hoping that global warming eats up a few of those pesky Pacific atolls before they create any more diplomatic headaches. First Nauru provoked Georgia's ire in 2008 when it recognised the independence of Abkhazia, and now the Abkhazians are claiming that Vanuatu has done the same

Georgia was immediately on the defensive, and the headlines in the Georgia Times pretty well summed up how they saw things: 'Vanuatu Recognition of Abkhazia will not change the situation in the world'. A good slapdown for those uppity NiVans and a reaffirmation of Georgian realpolitik, all in one sentence.

But there was another twist to this tale of diplomatic skulduggery. According to the respected Moscow Times, the NiVans denied they had ever recognised Abkhazia. The New York Times weighed in, claiming the Abkhazians had used airfreight to courier the necessary documents between the two countries. But the NYT also backed the Moscow Times' claim that there was no agreement.

So what really happened? It could be down to internal NiVan politicking, as this article points out

Even now, there are probably junior officers in the Georgian Foreign Ministry looking up maps to pinpoint Vanuatu, as our own Pacific Island desk officers in the RG Casey Building consult atlases (or Google Earth) for where the hell Abkhazia is. Just when you think the Arab Spring is the only big-ticket political story in town, those Pacific Islanders come out and surprise you.

Photo of Port Vila by Flickr user PhillipC.