Countries Which Don't Exist (Self-Declared; Unrecognised; Etc.)

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Anonymous

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I've been off and researched this one a bit. UK government websites do contain a great deal of info...it's just finding it that takes time...

I can confirm what I was saying about Crown ownership is essentially true for the UK. Specifically:

1) Property rights were rationalised through a series of acts in 1925 to freehold and leasehold -- there are some other aspects of the law regarding access and use rights, but they needn't concern us here

2) "Crown" is a typically British muddle. "Crown" proprety belongs to the monarch, but is not their personal property. By agreement, all Crown property is managed by the government and profits returned to the public purse. In this sense, it's analogous (I suppose) to the general constitutional status of the UK. The monarch is, after all, head of state, but in practice has not interfered with legislation since, I'm told, Queen Victoria amended the Homosexuality Act (i.e. her notorious refusal to believe in lesbianism).

I'm reaching the limits of my constitutional knowledge here, but I did find the Crown Estates FAQ useful & I suggest that it is clearer on the matter than I can be:

www.crownestate.gov.uk/info/faq.shtml

Sadly, I didn't spot a faq in there on setting up your own state. I'm not going to be the one to ask them...
 
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Anonymous

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Getting my own city state is one of my goals in life. Easier to build a society from scratch than change the present one.
 

rynner2

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Xanatic said:
Easier to build a society from scratch than change the present one.
People have tried this experiment, and generally found it doesn't work. There's usually a dispute about who unblocks the drains or something...

Some religious communities may have succeeded (but it's hardly a 'society' if there's celibacy and no children), but many of the more extreme ones have come to an unpleasant end.
 
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Anonymous

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Actually early last century a group of disaffected unionists left Australia for somewhere in Central America cant remember where.Apart from isolation ,disease and distrust from the natives,they found that even in Utopia ordinary grunts are needed for mundane chores.Most people cant put away ego to perform in a tribal/very small comunity.Perhaps the Kibutz should be a model,they seem to work.Does anyone have any personal experiences to support or deny this theory.I know people on comunes and they are constantly bickering as to who should do this,who should contribute more and so forth.Everyone seems to have different agenda's and needs and they seem to get bogged down by the democratic agenda,rather than the needs of the group to survive and harmonise as a group.
 
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Anonymous

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Xanatic said:
We could always do it on the moon.
Hey, the moon is OURS! It has our flag on it.

Texas is the only state that can legally secede from the United States. It was a separate country before it was accessioned, and maintains this priveledge by a sort of pre-nup agreement with the US. For this same reason, it is the only state whose flag may be flown at the same level as the US flag. It can also legally divide itself into five separate states. Isn't that neat?
 
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Anonymous

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If I set up my own country, it would be a principality (yeah, you guessed it). None of this democracy guff. It might be easier for me to just invade somewhere, actually. It would save me digging drains and stuff.
How about between Spain and Gibraltar? Prince, nay, KING of the neutral zone?
 

intaglio

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afebk said:
Hey, the moon is OURS! It has our flag on it.

Texas is the only state that can legally secede from the United States. It was a separate country before it was accessioned, and maintains this priveledge by a sort of pre-nup agreement with the US. For this same reason, it is the only state whose flag may be flown at the same level as the US flag. It can also legally divide itself into five separate states. Isn't that neat?
I thought Hawaii had the same right?
 

trosper

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schnor said:
mebbe an UL but I'm sure I read it in FT a few years back?
FT98. That article was mainly about the Dominion of Melchizedek, which still has a website.

Apparently, they were the first nation to officially recognize the Republic of Kosovo. So they say...
 

trosper

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afebk said:
Texas is the only state that can legally secede from the United States.
Wasn't there some guy who declared himself Emperor of Teaxs for a bit? I thought I had something filed away, but the cat must have ate it.
 
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Anonymous

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owning your own country

Hippy why are you hung up on fiji ,youll end up the outsider danger ,danger,I'd personally consider one of the Tahitian or Marquesas Islands.I would definately come,but its worthless if you dont actually own your own land.Im not working like a dog unless its for myself.Otherwise I'd sit on the beach sucking SP lager.
 
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Anonymous

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There was an Emperor of the united states- Josua Norton a London born South African jew if I remember rightly, he lived in San Francisco there are loads of websites about him.
 
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Anonymous

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I hope Hippy gets his island paradise - maybe we'd all be welcome there ?

Fiji is a nice place, but can be quite wet and cold at certain times of the year. The Fijians are fantastic people, but it's worth remembering that they're becoming much more assertive about their national rights, after many years of negative outside influence from missionaries, colonials and plantations. I'm not sure how they'd react to the establishment of "Forteana" & I'm sure there'd be some conflict arising over "ownership" of Fijian territory.

I caught the tail end of a program (on Channel 4 ?) where a British couple tried the same thing somewhere in Oceania - they were repeatedly invaded by boat parties of locals, who didn't like the idea that they'd "bought" the island.

I believe they were held up at gunpoint and forcibly removed from the island at one point. It ended very sadly as the poor guy died following an Asthma attack, and it ended saying that his family had returned to the island to try and make the best of it - I lay awake for a while afterwards, a little afraid of what would happen to them. Do island paradises really exist anymore ?
 

curzone

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http://www.ashurstwood.com/

http://directory.google.com/Top/Society/Issues/Secession/Micronations/Europe/

:D

Just when you thought revolutions had gone out of fashion, the residents of a sleepy English village proved that's just not the case. The Sussex hamlet of Ashurst in the South of England declared independence from the rest of the UK. It erected a series of border posts and demanded "foreigners" have visas to obtain entry.

The People's Republic of Ashurst Wood Nation State - which uses the acronym Prawns - announced its break from "taxation and British oppression" in the first minute of 1 January 2000. A revolutionary committee informed the Queen and British Prime Minister Tony Blair of its intention to rule unencumbered by the law of the land. Those behind the movement say most villagers are in favour of the move and many have volunteered to help staff checkpoints on the road from nearby East Grinstead. Mark Eichner was the newly appointed Chief Minister or "King Prawn". He leads an administration boasting some new and innovative public policy departments, including a new ministry of mental health, the local pub, "The Maypole".

The cocktail we had down at the Ministry of Mental Health formerly known as "The Maypole" is tried, you're probably lying down after the second drink.

The "revolutionaries" say they are justified in breaking with the UK because of a ruling by King Ethelred, who came to the English throne in the year 979. They say he granted the village of Ashurst, immunity from taxation after he was taken ill in the area. Mr Blair has yet to respond to this challenge to his authority and so far there are no signs of the British Army moving in. Nick Clarke in London.


NEWSGROUP ARTICLE

Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000
From: Anonymous
Subject: [Usenet posting] Ashurst Woods declares independence from UK

[Posted to humanities.philosophy.objectivism]

The people of Ashurst Wood(s), formerly of East Sussex, England in the so-called "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," have now declared that Kingdom disunited, and have assumed full sovereignty over their village under a new constitution, including the establishment (of) border stations with passport controls and an army.

The new state, officially known as the "People's Republic of Ashurst Woods - a National State" or by its acronym, PRAWNS, is a response to what they call
"British taxation and oppression" and specifically to the Crown's failure to honor a promise made in the year 979 by King Ethelred the Unready to exempt Ashurst residents from all taxes.

One of the leaders of the new Republic, Keith Hagenbach, spoke of the universal appeal of this move and the opportunities it presented: "I suppose this is all about our anarchic streak. It's something many people would, I am sure, love to do. We are touched that (what) we are doing has reached beyond the village and we want to channel that energy. We may sell passports, to hand-selected people of course, at the local fair and pass the proceeds to local charity."

Freedom-loving peoples everywhere have hailed this action as a bold strike for liberty, and are calling upon all the governments of the world to extend full diplomatic recognition to Ashurst Wood(s) and to vigorously support it in its struggle against British tyranny. Like Kosovo and Chechnya, Ashurst Wood(s) is in need of strong international support (possibly including trade sanctions and international peacekeeping forces) to defend Ashurstian democracy and the very existence of its people against the looming threat of a declining socialist dictatorship attempting to use force to retake its former territory and drive an independence-minded people from their homes and turn them into refugees.

In spite of the lack of freedom of the press in Britain, some reports concerning events in Ashurst Wood(s) have filtered out over the Internet from British-occupied East Grinstead. There is as yet no information as to whether residents of East Grinstead or other near-by localities such as Crawley
Down, Lingfield, Forest Row, and Hartfield (the beloved home of Pooh Corner) harbor similar yearnings for independence from Britain, but some informed observers have suggested that the United Nations may eventually have to sponsor internationally-supervised elections, much as it did in East
Timor, to determine the true sentiments of other Sussex residents.

Historians note that Sussex was an independent nation-state for approximately three centuries before succumbing to the overlordship of Mercia in 770 and Wessex in 825, and absorption into Wessex in 860, and that the memory of South Saxon freedom has not yet died out. The British monarchy had its origins in the imperialist Wessex state, and was in turn later conquered by the Dukes of Normandy in 1066, with the monarchical succession eventually passing into the hands of Scottish, Dutch, and German families. As such, the crown is just as foreign to many of the peoples of the various Anglo-Saxon and Celtic nations that make up England as it is to the people of Scotland and Ulster.

While the Anglo-Saxon nationalisms have been more muted than that of the Celtic peoples in recent decades, it is believed that the global trend towards submerged nationalisms reasserting themselves as multinational socialist states decay has now become firmly rooted throughout Britain.
Long-suppressed linguistic and cultural differences among the peoples of the former Anglo-Saxon heptarchy (besides Sussex, Wessex, and Mercia, the
heptarchy included Essex, Kent, East Anglia, and Northumbria) as well as with the Celtic peoples of Wales and Cornwall may lead to the break-up of
England, much as they have the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

Ashurst Wood's independence is but the latest in series of events indicative of such a trend, including the re-establishment of national parliaments, the return of Hong Kong to China, and the disenfranchisement of the descendents of the original Norman oppressors of the Anglo-Saxons and their elite colleagues over the course of British history: the hereditary members of the House of Lords.


INTERNATIONAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
THIS is TRUE for 16 January 2000 (excerpt) © http://www.thisistrue.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
BORDER MENTALITY: The village Ashurst Wood just outside of East Grinstead in Sussex, England, has declared its independence. Now calling itself the People's Republic of Ashurst Wood Nation State (PRAWNS), visitors need a PRAWNS-issued visa before they're allowed in. The community's leader, "King Prawn", insists the declaration is serious. "It sometimes feels that the County Council is a very, very long way away and they've never been to visit us," he complained.
(Reuters) ... "We'll crush them like the Sussex-Held Rural Interior Municipal Precinct (SHRIMP) they are," sneered the Council Chairman.
 

carole

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Think I might go and move there - anything to get away from Laughing Boy Blair!

Wonder what their immigration policy is?

Do incomers start as krill, then graduate to brine shrimps, before becomeing fully-hatched prawns?

Carole
 
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Anonymous

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The village I was born in declared independence in 1965.

The Independent State of Cuckfield is a tiny, historic village (basically a high street, a church and a pub) nestled in the folds of the South Downs in Sussex.

Since I was born after the declaration I suppose I'm a Cuckfieldian rather than a Brit, although I haven't been back for a while so hopefully I shan't be subjected to suspicion and humiliating body searches if I do return.

Lovely place, though. Here's the link:

http://www.graydonwhite.freeserve.co.uk/cuckfield/
 

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carole said:
Think I might go and move there - anything to get away from Laughing Boy Blair!


Carole
I see that the people of Gibraltar are thinking on the same lines!!!!

Fed up with being shafted by the UK & Spain, who are deciding their own unilateral plans for Gibs. future. The people, are setting up plans for self government.

In Gibs. case that seems to involve their parliment, the House of Assembly, stripping the governor of most of his powers & forming a new parliment of 17 elected members, without the two appointed at present by London.

Yes I know, it's just a boring bit of rock, but I wish them well, I just hope Spain & the UK leave them alone to get on with their own lives.... somehow I don't think they will!!!!!!:(
 

rynner2

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Gibraltar has geography on its side, being almost an island anyway. I've been there 2 or 3 times, and I liked it, so if the folks there want to keep it more or less how it is, they have my backing.
 
A

Anonymous

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I come from a very small island in Denmark. It was once a republic during WWII I believe it was. Some guy appointed himself president of it, and it lasted for a whole three days before he was killed.
 
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Anonymous

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Isn't there a case for bringing in a new situation within the upper-echelons of capitalism? Capitalism is okay up to a point, then it gets a bit silly.

I mean think about it - you make one or two million and you're pretty much there. Own house, own car, no need to work again. But then what?
What's the difference between having fifty million and a hundred million? Is this right whilst the less fortunate go without?

Time to kick around an idea - how about we put a ceiling on everyone's earnings (something nice and high - say twenty million) and say "Right - if you want more, you have to do something useful. From now on, it's not about selling mediocre albums, or crap films with lots of explosions, but about making a difference. If you do something useful to society as a whole or benefit the needy, then yes, you can have that new yacht. Or if you contribute towards a major clean-up operation on polluted land, yes you can have that villa in Switzerland.

Hmm....?
 

beakboo1

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It's a nice idea DarkDick, but it would have to be implemented world wide, or they'd just leave and take their money with them. Like in the 70's.
 

carole

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Dark Detective said:
Or if you contribute towards a major clean-up operation on polluted land, yes you can have that villa in Switzerland.

Hmm....?
I've done a lot of housework today, DD, can I have a nice house with a sea view in Jersey, please??

Carole
 
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Anonymous

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Originally posted by Curzone
http://www.ashurstwood.com/

[ Mark Eichner was the newly appointed Chief Minister or "King Prawn".

Can you see what he did? He called himself "King prawn" Like the animal. Do you understand. Its funny.

I wish we in the U.K could declare somewhere pointless, like Surrey, independent and import all our Daily Mail/Telegraph reading Little-Englanders into it.

Give me "smiling-boy" Blair any day over the sort of people who think taking charge and calling yourself "King Prawn" is a real hoot.

Independence for Little-England now! Please.
 

ogopogo3

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http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthtribune/news/local/4540406.htm

Man declares his strip club a sovereign nation

BY TAMMY J. OSEID AND BOB SHAW
ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS

No man is an island, but Albert LaFontaine says his strip club is.

The Ojibwe man bought a former pizza parlor in tiny Elko in early October, declared the land a sovereign Indian nation and said he'll ignore any government's attempt to close it.

"There ain't no way on God's Earth that they're going to stop me," said LaFontaine, of St. Paul.

It's not the first time LaFontaine has said that.

The 82-year-old man who in 1959 offered to sell a third of North Dakota to the Soviet Union has put forth a variety of schemes to build casinos on land that he's bought and declared sovereign.

As an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain band of Ojibwe in North Dakota, La Fontaine said he received a document that gives him land rights in place of a parcel on the band's reservation.

He said that -- plus a plethora of laws and treaties that he recites to anyone not quick enough to get a word in edgewise -- entitles him to make the Elko land his own reservation. Elko is south of the Twin Cities, just off Interstate 35.

"It's not up to him to declare it as a sovereign reservation," said Mark Anderson, an attorney with Jacobson, Buffalo, Schoessler & Magnuson, which represents many Midwestern Indian tribes.

The U.S. Interior Department can establish new reservations. But the process takes years, and a state's governor must agree with the plan, which has stymied a Hudson, Wis., dog track proposal for years. The federal government must also find that reservations serve the best interest of the tribe and not be detrimental to surrounding community, Anderson said.

And U.S. policy has not allowed reservations for individuals.

In the meantime, LaFontaine's strip club -- which boasts no name but was formerly known as Circus Circus -- is driving some locals loco.

"It is frustrating," said Andrea Poehler, city attorney of Elko. Managing the typical lawsuits surrounding strip clubs is easier, she said, than "dealing with LaFontaine, who is really coming out of left field."

Until about a year ago, the building that formerly housed Glenno's Pizza was innocuous as things get in Elko, population 472. Then Minneapolis resident Emad Abed began transforming it into what he calls a classy strip club, complete with cushy lounges and a catwalk.

The city shut Abed down on a building code violation.

In October, after LaFontaine bought it for $1 plus "considerations," notices appeared on the doors, saying the owner was immune to laws restricting liquor and gambling. It warned federal and state officials not to interfere. The doors opened Nov. 1.
 

WhistlingJack

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HOLIDAYS IN THE DANGER ZONE: PLACES THAT DON'T EXIST

There are almost 200 official countries in the world, but there are dozens more breakaway states which are determined to be separate and independent.


All of the breakaway states have declared independence after violent struggles with a neighbour. Some now survive peacefully, but others are a magnet for terrorists and weapons smuggling, and have armies ready for a fight.

In these two programmes Simon Reeve visits six such places: Somaliland, Trans-Dniester and Taiwan (part one); Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia (part two).

BBC Four: Was there one country that was the starting point for thinking about these "places that don't exist"?

Simon Reeve: Yes. A friend of mine mentioned that he was doing business with some Somalilanders. I said, "Somaliland? Where's that?" He said it was a country in the north of Somalia and to my shame I didn't know anything about it. I found out that it's a functioning state within Somalia. It seemed extraordinary to me that there is no real government in Somalia but the world recognises it as a country, and then there's Somaliland which has elections and a functioning democracy, but the world doesn't recognise it as a proper country. It just seemed a very strange situation. I discovered that there were all these other countries, some of which I'd vaguely heard of, some I hadn't. Then of course there's Taiwan, which everybody has heard of, but not everybody knows isn't recognised as a proper state. It has no seat at the United Nations and no major countries have an embassy there.

BBC Four: What are the main negative factors affecting these countries because they are not recognised?

SR: It leaves a lot of these people in limbo. Many people can't get proper passports and it's difficult for them to travel because no other governments recognise their country. To many of them I also think it's a bit of an insult that they've built a functioning state and yet the rest of the world won't recognise their existence. From our perspective I think it's better to bring them inside the international community. When they are outside it doesn't give international organisations the chance to keep an eye on what's going on. For example, Interpol can't efficiently operate in Trans-Dniester because it doesn't recognise it exists. There are great concerns about the risks of arms manufacturing there, but nobody can really find out the truth because they can't go there.

BBC Four: I got the impression that you enjoyed Trans-Dniester because it was in such a Soviet time warp.

SR: All the places we went to were fascinating, but Trans-Dniester was very unusual because it did feel like stepping back in time. I didn't go to the old Soviet Union, I was a bit too young then, but Trans-Dniester is how I imagine it would have been. Indeed, people there said that they didn't really want to change when the Soviet Union collapsed, didn't want to be become a Western European state, and didn't want McDonald's and Starbucks. They'd kept things pretty much the way they were, so it was a fascinating place to visit precisely because of that.

BBC Four: Did you have a favourite?

SR: The whole thing was a great adventure frankly and a chance to go to places that very few people get to visit, and to show people countries they've never even heard of. Somaliland was perhaps the highlight because it was incredible to see what the people had achieved with virtually nothing. That was a very moving experience and the people were quite inspirational. They rebuilt their country after a devastating civil war with very little help from the outside world, but with sheer hard work and a belief in their own national identity they've been able to build a functioning state. Speaking on a personal level I find it very sad that their
requests for international recognition fall on deaf ears. This is a country which has virtually no foreign debt. Now that's rare in Africa and it's primarily because they aren't recognised so the IMF won't give them loans. It also means that there's not a lot of money sloshing around in the government coffers so there's not much corruption. We met the president of Somaliland, which was quite interesting. He made the point that he runs the country on just a few million pounds a year. It seems incredible to us that they can do such things, but everybody accepts that they've got less money.

BBC Four: And a least favourite?

SR: Each country was very different and had something special about it. Everywhere we went we met truly wonderful characters who were brimming with hospitality. But Nagorno-Karabakh was a place that made me quite sad because everywhere you went, on both sides, people loathed the other side. There didn't seem to be much hope for any improvement for the people there. With people still in trenches facing the opposition in Azerbaijan - there's the threat of war there at any moment.

BBC Four: These programmes always have surreal moments, but this series seemed to have even more than your last one. Are there any that stick in your mind that were particularly bizarre or unexpected?

SR: I actually got quite emotional when I saw the Chinese tourists trying to look at the Taiwanese propaganda. I was more emotional about it off camera than I was on camera. It just seemed such an extraordinary situation. You had tourists from a country which is emerging as one of the world's great economic, and potentially military, super-powers. They are very keen to find out what's happening in the rest of the world, including just over the water in Taiwan. For years they've been able to see these small signs on the horizon which have been spouting out Taiwanese propaganda, and then as soon as they try to get close to the signs to see what they say, the Taiwanese coast guard turns them back. It was a very weird situation.

BBC Four: I enjoyed your encounter with Mr Big Beard in Somalia.

SR: Yes, buying a Somali diplomatic passport from Mr Big Beard in a Mogadishu back street market was a fairly weird experience.

BBC Four: Mogadishu did seem genuinely hairy.

SR: It is a very, very dangerous place. It seems to have been virtually abandoned by the rest of the world precisely because it is so dangerous. That just condemns the people who live there to almost perpetual suffering. It actually made me think of Afghanistan in terms of how the rest of the world was involved there at one point. There was foreign involvement in both Afghanistan and Somalia in the 1980s and then in the early 90s the international community pulled out of both countries. It was still pretty bad when the rest of the world was in Somalia, but then they pulled out and the inhabitants have been left to suffer on their own ever since. I think there is the potential for similar problems to those in Afghanistan if the rest of the world doesn't get involved properly in Somalia.

BBC Four: There also seemed to have been a lot of instances when the camera had to be pointed at the ground to avoid your filming being noticed.

SR: There were a few times when filming became dangerous. The countries we were in are inherently lawless by their very nature. They exist in a vacuum of their own. There is no British embassy you can turn to. You take somewhere like Trans-Dniester, which is quite clearly functioning as a country, but the international community does not operate there and there's no one to turn to if you get into trouble. So you are entirely dependent and at the mercy of the local government and the local security people or secret police. You do have to be responsible and careful. If someone points a gun at you, you point your camera the other way, and if they tell you to stop filming, then you have to make a judgement on whether you are going to get into a lot of trouble if you do carry on.

BBC Four: I realise that they are all very different, but where do you think these countries are going?

SR: All of these countries have sought independence after a war or major conflict and the threat of a future war hangs over them. Taiwan is the most serious for the rest of the world, because if Taiwan and China go to war, it will drag in other countries in the region, and possibly even the United States. I think Somaliland is a likely candidate for international recognition. The government and the people there have done so much to build a functioning country that it does make you wonder how the rest of the world can ignore them. It's a real African success story.

sauce
Inspired by this, I've started this thread where we can post information about self-declared but unrecognised countries (an old Fortean favourite) - please feel free to post links and info about any you come across.

Running List: -

Abkhazia, Acheh, Ahwaz, Ajaria, Assyria, Bashkortostan, Biafra, Bougainville, Buryatia, Cabinda, Chechnya, Conch Republic, Eastern Turkestan, Enen Kio, Flanders, Gagauzia, Hawaii, Iraqi Kurdistan, Karenni, Kashmir, Kingdom of Prester John, Komi Republic, Kosovo, Kumyk, Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation, Mann, Melchizedek, Mon State, Nagalim, Nagorno-Karabakh, New Utopia, Nuxalk Nation, Sanjak, Scania, Scotland, Sealand, Shan States, Somaliland, South Moluccas, South Ossetia, Taiwan, Tatarstan, Tibet, Trans-Dniester, Ulster, West Papua, Western Canada, Western Sahara, Zanzibar

Scradje
 

WhistlingJack

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Abkhazia

Regions and territories: Abkhazia

Situated in the north-western corner of Georgia with the Black Sea to the south-west and the Caucasus mountains and Russia to the north-east, Abkhazia was once known as a prime holiday destination for the Soviet elite.


It was also an important tea, citrus fruit and tobacco growing area.

Abkhazia's battle for independence from Georgia since the collapse of the USSR has reduced the economy to ruins. The only things to thrive are the atmosphere of instability and Russo-Georgian rivalry for influence, although Russian tourists are beginning to return.

KEY DATES

1810 - Russia declares Abkhazia a protectorate

1864 - Russia annexes Abkhazia

1921 - Abkhazia declared Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

1931 - Soviet authorities incorporate Abkhazia into Georgia

1991 - Georgia declares independence

1992 - Georgia sends troops to quell calls in Abkhazia for break with Georgia and closer ties with Russia

1993 - Fierce fighting ends with Georgian forces being expelled from Abkhazia

1994 - Independence declared, ceasefire agreed, CIS peacekeepers arrive, nearly all Russian. Ardzinba becomes president

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 261059.stm

Published: 2005/01/19 12:33:17 GMT

© BBC MMV

sauce
Further Link - www.unpo.org
 

WhistlingJack

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Nagorno-Karabakh

Regions and territories: Nagorno-Karabakh

Situated in south-western Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is a richly fertile area of striking beauty scarred by its violent history.


The word Karabakh has Turkic and Persian roots and means "black garden". The word Nagorno is Russian and means mountainous.

History

Populated for hundreds of years by Armenian and Turkic farmers, herdsmen and traders, Karabakh became part of the Russian empire in the 19th century.

Armenia insists that it was part of an early Christian kingdom, citing the presence of ancient churches as evidence. Azeri historians argue that the churches were built by the Caucasian Albanians, a Christian nation whom they regard as among the forebears of the Azeri people.

Islam arrived in the region more than a millennium ago.

For long periods Christian Armenians and Turkic Azeris lived in peace but they were both guilty of acts of brutality in the early 20th century. These live on in the popular memory and fuel mutual antagonism.

The end of World War I and the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia brought carving up of borders. As part of their divide-and-rule policy in the area, the Soviets established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, of which the population was predominantly ethnic Armenian, within Azerbaijan in the early 1920s.

Armenian discontent at this situation smouldered throughout the Soviet period. Ethnic Armenian-Azeri frictions exploded into furious violence in the late 1980s in the twilight years of the USSR.

As the violence escalated, the ethnic Azeri population fled Karabakh and Armenia while ethnic Armenians fled the rest of Azerbaijan. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, in late 1991, Karabakh declared itself an independent republic. That de facto status remains unrecognised elsewhere.

Although there was no formal declaration of war, there was large-scale combat between Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces. That fighting ultimately brought victory for the ethnic Armenians who then pushed on to occupy Azeri territory outside Karabakh, creating a buffer zone linking Karabakh and Armenia.

Ceasefire but no final settlement

A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in 1994 leaving Karabakh de facto under ethnic Armenian control. The deal also left swathes of Azeri territory around the enclave in Armenian hands. No final settlement has ever been signed. Both sides have had soldiers killed in sporadic breaches of the ceasefire. The closure of borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan has caused landlocked Armenia severe economic problems for nearly 15 years.

It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people lost their lives during half a decade of conflict, and that more than one million fled their homes. The Azeris have yet to return to areas of Azerbaijan now under ethnic Armenian control and have little prospect of returning to Karabakh itself. Similarly, the Armenians who fled Azerbaijan during the conflict have not returned there.

The ethnic Armenians who now account for virtually the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh prefer to call it Artsakh, an ancient name dating back around 1,500 years.

The situation throughout over a decade since the ceasefire agreement has been one of simmering stalemate. Azeris bitterly resent the loss of the land which they regard as rightfully theirs. The Armenians show no sign of willingness to compromise or give one square centimetre of it back.

Russia, France and the USA co-chair the OSCE's Minsk Group which has been attempting to broker an end to the dispute for over a decade.

In 1997 the group tabled settlement proposals seen as a starting point for negotiations by Azerbaijan and Armenia but not by the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh itself. When the then Armenian president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, tried to encourage Nagorno-Karabakh to enter into talks he was forced to resign amid cries of betrayal.

Hopes of a peace deal were raised in 2001, after a series of meetings between Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and Heydar Aliyev, the late president of Azerbaijan.

However, ultimately the talks came to nothing, and contacts between the two countries' presidents have never looked so promising again.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 658938.stm

Published: 2005/01/25 14:50:51 GMT

© BBC MMV

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WhistlingJack

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Somaliland

Regions and territories: Somaliland

A breakaway, semi-desert territory on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, Somaliland declared independence after the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre in 1991.


The move followed a secessionist struggle during which Siad Barre's forces pursued rebel guerrillas in the territory. Tens of thousands of people were killed and towns were flattened.

OVERVIEW

Though not internationally recognised, Somaliland has a working political system, government institutions, a police force and its own currency. The territory has lobbied hard to win support for its claim to be a sovereign state.

The former British protectorate has also escaped much of the chaos and violence that plague Somalia, although attacks on Western aid workers in 2003 raised fears that Islamic militants in the territory were targeting foreigners.

Despite a thriving private business sector, poverty and unemployment are widespread. The economy is highly dependent on money sent home by members of the diaspora. Port duties from Berbera, a trans-shipment centre used by landlocked Ethiopia, and livestock exports also contribute to the territory's income.

Embargoes on livestock exports, imposed by some Gulf countries to inhibit the spread of Rift Valley Fever, have seriously affected the territory's revenues.

Somaliland is involved in a border dispute with the neighbouring autonomous Somali region of Puntland over the Sanaag and Sool areas, some of whose inhabitants owe their allegiance to Puntland.

Somaliland's leaders have distanced themselves from Somalia's central transitional government, set up in 2004 following long-running talks in Kenya, which they see as a threat to Somaliland's autonomy.

Somaliland was independent for a few days in 1960, between the end of British colonial rule and its union with the former Italian colony of Somalia. More than 40 years later voters in the territory overwhelmingly backed its self-declared independence in a May 2001 referendum.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 794847.stm

Published: 2004/11/10 10:52:48 GMT

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South Ossetia

Regions and territories: South Ossetia

Mountainous South Ossetia, which is in Georgia, is separated from North Ossetia, which is in Russia, by the border between the two countries running high in the Caucasus. Much of the region lies more than 1000 metres above sea level.


South Ossetia is inhabited mostly by ethnic Ossetians who speak a language remotely related to Farsi. Georgians account for less than one-third of the population.

History

The Ossetians are believed to be descended from tribes which migrated into the area from Asia many hundreds of years ago and settled in what is now North Ossetia.

As the Russian empire expanded into the area in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ossetians did not join other peoples of the North Caucasus in putting up fierce resistance. Some fought alongside the Russians against neighbours who had long been rivals, while others made the difficult journey south across the mountains to escape.

By tradition, the Ossetians have had good relations with Russians and were regarded as loyal citizens, first of the Russian empire and later of the Soviet Union. They sided with the Kremlin when Bolshevik forces occupied Georgia in the early 1920s and, as part of the carve-up which followed, the South Ossetian Autonomous Region was created in Georgia and North Ossetia was formed in Russia.

Violence flares

In the twilight of the Soviet Union, as Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia came to prominence in Tbilisi, South Ossetia too flexed its separatist muscles. Soviet forces were sent to keep the peace in late 1989 following violent clashes between Georgians and Ossetians in the capital, Tskhinvali. Violence flared again as South Ossetia declared its intention to secede from Georgia in 1990 and, the following year, effective independence.

The collapse of the USSR and Georgian independence in 1991 did nothing to dampen South Ossetia's determination to consolidate the break with Tbilisi. Sporadic violence involving Georgian irregular forces and Ossetian fighters continued until the summer of 1992 when agreement on the deployment of Georgian, Ossetian and Russian peacekeepers was reached. Hundreds died in the fighting.

There has been stalemate ever since. South Ossetia's independence remains unrecognised and separatist voices became less strident during President Shevardnadze's rule. South Ossetia, its economy and infrastructure a shambles and crime rife, faded from the headlines.

Mikhail Saakashvili takes reins in Tbilisi

When Mikhail Saakashvili was elected Georgian president, he was quick to spell out his intention to bring breakaway regions to heel. He has offered South Ossetia dialogue and autonomy within a single Georgian state. That falls far short of what separatists demand.

Having seen Mr Saakashvili move firmly to reestablish Tbilisi's authority in Ajaria, many observers consider South Ossetia to be his next target.

Tension rose in May 2004 when South Ossetia held parliamentary elections, unrecognised by Tbilisi - as elections there have been since the region broke away.

Soon afterwards, Georgia moved troops up to the South Ossetia border in what it described as an operation to combat smuggling, believed to be the mainstay of the local economy.

Russia reacted by condemning Georgia for endangering a fragile peace. Tbilisi said it was dealing with a domestic problem and that the extra forces did not exceed the numbers allowed under the 1992 peacekeeping agreement.

In August 2004 fighting broke out between Georgian soldiers and South Ossetian separatist forces. A ceasefire accord, under which both sides agreed to create buffer zones, was quickly undermined by intensified fighting.

Separatists are hoping for support from Moscow. Russia still has peacekeeping forces there and, while it does not recognise South Ossetia's independence, it has close contacts with the leadership. Most South Ossetians have Russian passports and the Russian rouble is commonly used in trade.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 797729.stm

Published: 2005/01/30 12:31:51 GMT

© BBC MMV

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