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A Troubled Claim to Citizenship? A Case Study of Estonians in the Abkhaz Region

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Title: A Troubled Claim to Citizenship? A Case Study of Estonians in the Abkhaz Region
Author(s): Treumuth, Getter Kristen
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies
Specialisation: Social Sciences
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
This thesis focuses on the case study of the Estonian diaspora in Abkhazia, the breakaway region of Georgia, and their claim to the Estonian citizenship by birth. This claim is based on the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty Article IV, that allowed people living on both sides of the signing parties (the Russian Soviet Federative Republic, and the newly independent Estonian Republic) to obtain the citizenship of either countries. Focusing on the way the Estonian citizenship policy has impacted the process of obtaining citizenship by birth for the descendants of the optants, the study is based on the role of securitization in the matter. The thesis makes use of televised interviews and written news reports on the case study by Estonian news reporters. Moreover, the sources are analysed with qualitative methods, particularly political and critical discourse analysis, and discourse-historical analysis. The information is gathered by using qualitative methods. Furthermore, securitization theory, societal security and constructivism are used as the base the study. The key findings of the thesis are that distrust towards the optants and worries for security are presented in the media by state officials. However, opposing arguments in support of the Abkhaz Estonians often brush over the matters of security altogether, highlighting the ‘absurdity’ of the situation and the valid claim of citizenship by these individuals. These findings could prove beneficial for those aiming to understand the phenomena better and serve as basis of further research, especially in media analysis.
Keyword(s): citizenship identity securitization loyalty collective memory inclusion exclusion

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