Since our return the news and most of our conversations center around the ongoing conflict in Georgia. We have enjoyed visiting Georgia on several occasions. It has been attempting to break with the past cycle of post-Soviet corruption and control. Their actions put them at odds with Russian interests in the region. Russia makes no secret of wanting to exert more influnce in the Caucasus. Georgia matters because it a small country that has attempted some tranformations towards democracy and would be an encouraging model in the former USSR.
However, behind the current conflict is a greater problem - ethnic tension. The Caucasus Region has over 50 different ethnic groups. (Click on the map for a more detailed view.) Many of these groups are small but they retain their language and traditions. (Not all of these groups even have a written language yet.) Each people group seems to want its own territory or at least a measure of freedom over local matters. There is an amazing level of distrust and dislike between some of the groups. In fact, for many of them, the only option seems to be living in separate areas. Living together seems to be unthinkable or impossible. As long as these tensions among people who are different continue there is a danger of more military conflict.
We are removed from the conflict and completely safe in Baku. But we are concerned for the impact such a problem can have on the region. Please remember to pray for a peaceful outcome and for events to settle down quickly. But in the long term there is a need for reconciliation and understanding between a variety of people groups. You can be praying for that as well. I believe the only long term answer lies in the gospel.