Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.37.15 AM

A political scientist analyzes how breakaway states market themselves online:

Territories hoping for independence present themselves as already functioning states in the hope that they can gain access to the international system and that other states will trade with them, investors will spend their money there and tourists will visit. This would all make survival easier, and more pleasant, even without international recognition.

The Somaliland government website argues that the territory has “one of the most thriving economics in Africa” and the Transnistrian counterpart also highlights the many economic opportunities it can offer and a detailed powerpoint presentation for potential investors. Over in Nagorno Karabakh, several websites try to sell the entity to investors with posts such as 10 Reasons to Invest and aim to raise money from the Armenian diaspora.

Their arguments are vehemently opposed by the states to which these territories legally still belong. Countries such as Georgia and Azerbaijan also make frequent use of the internet to counter these messages, and instead describe these entities as illegal breakaway territories founded on ethnic cleansing, controlled by unscrupulous leaders, and dominated by organised crime. The strategies used by the unrecognised territories can therefore be described as “competitive democratization” or “competitive state-building”. They are trying to convince the world that they are more democratic and more stable than their parent states. Since most of these entities emerged from violent conflicts, they are also keen to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

(Screenshot from Somalilandgov.com)