My exemple of Georgia was to illustrate that national the oldness of a nation as nothing to do with national maturity. Georgia has a long history, but they have fallen in civil war because of a lack of democratic tradition. About the Ossetians and Abkhazians, they are far from being economically independent, but I hope that will use well their assets to build up a viable economy. It's crystal clear that Russia didn't help them by pure altruism, to the contrary they expected to weaken Georgia because it was associating with USA. The two small republic are unfortunate to be between the two sides of a power struggle, but if they do play their cards well (by throwing Russia against Georgia and then using Russian subsidies to build up a viable economy by exemple), I think they can become something viable (if Andora and San-Marino are viable economically, every country can) I'm not a specialist of Caucasus however, I study the diplomatic history of France during the Vichy regime (at the master level).
You touch another point, the boundaries. Personnally, I think that boundaries are an arbitrary lign on a map. Or they do fit or they don't. What is important for me, is that when there is a national majority somewhere, they are in right state. If they are not, we should ask them what they think about it. It's always better to let the democracy speak even on a purely material level. When you are forcing a people to live in a country they don't love, you are risking a civil war. And it tends to degenerate in ethnic cleansing. In the civil war of 1991-1993, the two sides were guilty of many ethnic cleansing. But, if they chose democracy, they must play it to the end.
For those who don't want to read everything : my nation, Quebec, tried three times to gain independance. First by a revolt against the British Empire and the last two times by referendum which resulted in no and there was no civil war. Others can read the whole story. Read the P.S. at the very end even if you don't read everything.
I will give you a long exemple of that and I will explain it in details because you are perhaps not familliar with the history of my nation. I'm Quebecer (we live in Quebec, a canadian province with 80% francophones, something like 9% anglophones and the rest don't speak neither french or english as mother tongue) and I'm proud to say so. We tried three time to become independent from the British Empire and then Canada in our history. The first time, the Lower-Canada was british colony and the elected parliament had only consultative power. The real power was in the ends of the military governor. He selected the members of the legislative council and executive council which that the real power of making laws and apply them. In 1834, we sent a letter to the Privy Council in London asking democratic reforms : they said no after 3 years. And then we rebelled and were crushed.
The next time was 1980 and we voted in referendum for independance. The federal government (Canada is a centralised federation. The regional government are called provincial governments) promised decentralising reforms if the people said no. 60% said no, 40 yes. Those that were for independance accepted the results peacefully (we were and are democratic society since around 1850). But the promises were not kept and the federal government of Trudeau centralised even more the powers around the federal government by taking the canadian constitution that was stored in London and taking to the capital, but by adding in it a charter of rights giving the power of the supreme court of overriding any provincial decisions if they don't fit in their ideology (since the supreme court of Canada replaced the privy council of London in the fifties, the supreme court has systematically accepted federal encroachment on the powers of the provinces, violating the constitution. The privy council was more pro-provinces historically).
The next try was in 1995. It was after a big constitionnal crisis. The federal government of the time wanted to make the Quebec enter the constitution since we didn't sign it in 1982 when the canadian constitution was rapatriated. They proposed to fulfil our historical demands which were : beeing recognised as a nation and not merely as a generic province, be given the rights of self-determination officialy, give us a veto power against any constitutionnal changes that touch directly the interest of Quebec and other smaller powers (for more informations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meech_Lake_Accord
). At the end, the other provinces didn't accept and a new wave of nationalism appeared and in a 1995, the pro independence party, the Parti québécois, was elected and launched another referendum on the question of independance. The no won with 50,6%, but there were many dirty tricks done covertly or not so covertly by the federal government and it was an higly contested vote. But the independentists, like me, accepted the vote peacefully, but emotionnally.
My exemple was long and as you can see is very emotional, but it shows that democracy is not always immediatly rewarding, but at least people didn't kill each other along silly ethnic lines even they lived together during centuries. The economy wasn't destoyed and we are an healthy society. The peaceful split of Czech Republic and Slovakia is an excellent exemple of that also and it's much better than civil war. Even if I sounded idealistic by times, my exemple shows that democracy works if we give the chance and it's much less disruptive than other options. But the peoples are not always rationnal
. And about the Quebec economy, it's developped and fully viable. I hope you are not sleeping
. Here is more informations about Quebec : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec
P. S. : For our Americans and Russians friends here, I have nothing against your nations in themselves, I'm against the policies of your politicians. I admire the faith the American place in democracy and the perfectibility of their institutions. About the Russians, I admire their national resilience against invasion, the crushing defeat they dealed to the Third Reich and their great culture which is full of life (Your music, folkloric (The Red Army Choir is glorious) or classical; your hospitality; your great litterature; and your Beef Stroganoff meal