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  Abkhazia and South Ossetia: in anticipation of a miracle

Auðra Radzevièiûtë
2008 05 13

photo REUTERSDeclaration of Kosovo‘s independence did not produce the chain reaction promised by Moscow – Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained unrecognized. However, Russia warned that it might take firm steps towards the recognition in case if Georgia would get an invitation for membership in NATO.

On 21 March Russia‘s Duma adopted a special statement and suggested President and the Government to discuss the issue on recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia‘s independence; Russia was also for the extension of the joint mission of CIS peacemakers. In response to the above demarche, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia said that it evaluated this as an „open interference into internal affairs of Georgia“. Besides, if Russia was going to increase the contingent of peacemakers and send the additional armament without coordinating this with Tbilisi, this would be treated as the aggression directed against Georgia.

The Statement of Russia‘s Duma was followed by additional warnings: in case if Tbilisi finally receives an invitation for membership in NATO, Russia would have to defend the interests of its citizens residing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

However, despite new Russia‘s promises, authorities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia shouldn‘t expect victory.  One of the arguments on why Kosovo has not become a starting point for recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was that Russia should have shown to the world how coherent and morally firm it was, especially regarding application of double standards or observance of international law requirements.

According to the Ukrainian newspaper „Den“,  Russia did everything so as to make “the fire of separatism in Georgia burning forever“. The newspaper reminded that Russia is quite active regarding Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but  does not say anything about the Nagorny Karabachos because of the friendly relations with Azerbaijan rich with oil and gas. Whereas the Georgian political scientist P.Davitaya says that Moscow will certainly not recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, since in the future this might generate the fall of Russia itself.

Abkhazia’s representatives do not expect much from Russia either: recently the minister of foreign affairs of Abkhazia M.Gvindzya said that Abkhazia would apply to the United Nations and to the leaders of states which recognized Kosovo‘s independence on the political recognition of Abkhazia, and consequently, sooner or later would get its way.

It is worth while analyzing the viewpoint of the Russian society towards recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  At the beginning of May the public opinion poll, executed by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, revealed that 33% of respondents said that Russia should help „the brotherly republics“ to become independent. However, the same amount of respondents (33%) was convinced that Russia should help to incorporate the separatist territories to the states from the arms of which they wanted to escape. In 2006 the independence of Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Trans-Dniester was supported by 40% of Russians (26% were against). It is assumed that recognition of Kosovo‘s independence has changed the opinion of a certain part of the Russian population.

On March 6 Moscow has unilaterally repealed the decision adopted during the CIS Summit in 1996 on the economic blockade on Abkhazia. From the economic point of view this step was evaluated by Sukhumi as Abkhazia’s recognition, however, according to unofficial talks, such a Russia’s decision is related to the Winter Olympic Games organized in Sochi in 2014. In Abkhazia they say that Sukhumi Airport could become an important „Olympic object“, since weather conditions in Sukhumi in spring time are much better than in the Russian Sochi. Prices of the real estate in Sukhumi and sea resorts Gagra and Picunda have jumped up significantly due to the upcoming Olympic Games.

The NATO Summit and the approaching elections to the Georgian Parliament will also increase the political passions related to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Actually, all the political powers in Georgia do not even discuss the issue of Abkhazia or South Ossetia’s separation from Georgia. Moreover: President of the country is accused for his excessive interest in Moscow and Brussels instead of firm completion of  „the parade of sovereignties“.

Whereas the Abkhaz news agency „Apsnypress“ informs (a quote from the Parliament’s statement of 20 March), that Georgia is getting prepared for the armed invasion.

In view of the above, one could hardly forecast the further development of events…

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