foreign trade up 20.5% in 2007
Sukhum, Republic of Abkhazia's foreign trade reached 4.7 billion
Russian rubles ($192 million) in 2007, up 20.5% year-on-year, the
province's customs committee said on Thursday.
The committee's chairman, Grigory Yenik, said the figure is lower than
expected due to lower-than-planned exports of citrus fruit, wood and
said Russia's ban on Abkhaz agriculture products has also had a negative
effect on trade.
Russia banned agriculture imports from Abkhazia, including citrus fruits,
in August last year on sanitary and health grounds.
independence sets important precedent for Transdniestria; others
leading British conflict resolution experts says that Kosovo's
independence is now inevitable. Professor Stefan Wolff also adds that it
will set an important precedent for similar conflicts worldwide. But
precedent or not, Transdniestria argues it has a better case for
independence than Kosovo, according to international law.
PRISTINA (Tiraspol Times) - A leading conflict resolution specialist,
whose work is funded by the European Commission and who teaches for the
British Ministry of Defense, says that there is no doubt that Kosovo
will become independent. He also says that Kosovo's independence will
set an important precedent for other states seeking independence or
international recognition of their current de facto situation
on the ground.
Professor Stefan Wolff, a leading expert at The University of
Nottingham, said Kosovo's future is crucial for stability in the Balkans
and will set an important precedent for similar conflicts worldwide.
- Kosovo's independence is inevitable, and this fact, a reality on the
ground for almost a decade, must finally be accepted," said Wolff, who
is Director of the Centre for International Crisis Management and
Conflict Resolution at the University's School of Politics and
Unilateral declaration of independence
The government of Kosovo is widely expected to declare independence in
the very near future, overriding strong objections from Serbia, which
the area is formally a de jure part of. Formally a province of
Serbia, Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since 1999
after a NATO bombing campaign forced the constitutional Serb government
to flee the area.
Just like Moldova's position in Transdniestria, Serbia currently has no
meaningful government authority over the area and can not exercise any
sovereign rights within the territory.
Transdniestria declared independence in 1990, one year before the
current Moldova came into existence as an independent republic. While
the international community generally recognized Moldova's independence
declaration, it has so far failed to do the same for Transdniestria's.
When compared to Kosovo, Transdniestria's president Igor Smirnov has
noted that his country - which is officially called Pridnestrovie,
according to its constitution - has a stronger legal and historical
claim to independent statehood.
- Pridnestrovie has a better case for independence, according to
international law," Smirnov told visiting journalists earlier this month.
No consensual divorce
Kosovo's new government — led by former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)
commander Hashim Thaci — is now expected to declare a permanent parting
of the ways from Serbia.
- The way in which Kosovo gains its independence seems clear. Serbian,
and Kosovo Albanian intransigence has made it impossible for a
consensual solution to be achieved in negotiations. A new resolution in
the Security Council confirming the conditions of Kosovo's independence
is equally unlikely because of Russian opposition," said Professor
- Hence, a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo will be
followed by recognition of Kosovo's independent statehood by the US, the
EU and its member states, and by countries organized in the Arab League
and the Organization of the Islamic Conference."
Kosovo is unlikely to receive universal recognition, putting it in the
status of unrecognized or partially recognized states alongside other
de facto countries such as Transdniestria, Somaliland, Northern
Cyprus, Taiwan and Abkhazia, and other states which function as separate
sovereign and independent states despite their limited international
recognition and no U.N. membership.
- Several countries have serious domestic concerns about recognizing
Kosovo following a unilateral declaration of independence, among them
Romania, Spain, and Slovakia," said Wolff. "The most serious opposition
can be expected from Cyprus, fearing that Kosovo would strengthen
Turkish Cypriot claims to their own state — despite the fact that
Turkish Cypriots accepted the Annan Plan for reunification in 2004, just
before Cyprus's accession to the EU, unlike their Greek Cypriot
Stefan Wolff specializes in conflict resolution and post-conflict
reconstruction in deeply divided and war-torn societies. He supports the
doctrine that sometimes self-determination based on a civilized divorce
between two sides if the best option rather than forced integration. His
work has been funded by the European Commission, the UK Foreign Office,
the British Academy, and others.
is an International Associate of the Liechtenstein Institute on
Self-determination at Princeton University. Since 2005 he has also been
teaching at the Joint Services Command and Staff College of the Ministry
of Defense of the United Kingdom.
01.31.2008 Tiraspol Times
officials seek support for its recognition
The capital city
of Russia, Moscow, hosts senior officials from Abkhazia, a de facto
independent country in continual search of international recognition of
itself as fully independent, just like Kosovo appears to be in line for
international recognition of its independence.
senior Abkhazian officials, namely President Sergei Bagapsh, Prime
Minister Aleksandr Ankuab
and Minister of Finance Beslan Kubrava,
have been in Moscow since Saturday.
three senior Abkhazian officials were stated to be in Moscow for
business. However, political analysts tend to think that this official
trip will be largely about the implications of a previous statement by
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said just days before the
trip that the Russian administration had not revealed any signs of
future recognition of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia in retaliation for
Kosovo's proclamation of its independence.
who is the official conveys the Abkhazian President's messages to the
press, the talks between the three senior Abkhazian officials and their
counterparts in Moscow are about education, health care and regional
development, especially that which concerns the eastern Abkhazia that
was worst hit by the '92-'93 war between Georgia and Abkhazia: "The
Abkhazian prime minister will himself monitor the stage of work about
the regional development," said Bjaniya.
Abkhazia hosted on
January 15 and
series of conferences on two separate occasions, the first one of which
was about the holiday resorts in Caucasus, and the second one of which
was about new methods of architecture that could be made use of in
re-structuring the post-war Abkhazia. Members of the Russian Association
for Architects also attended these conferences.
Ministry of Reintegration deemed a blow to talks
The administration of Abkhazia made its interpretation of the decision
by its counterpart in Georgia to change the name of its department that
was originally set up to resolve conflicts to read now ‘The Ministry of
and accused Georgia of taking a step toward ending negotiations.
Abkhazia would not be in contact with this newly renamed
department of Georgian government, said Sergei Shamba, Foreign Minister
of Abkhazia, and added that 's move would leave no further chances for
negotiations to continue.
"Even if the administration of assumes compliance with
the Moscow Agreement of Cease Fire, the Abkhazian government will refuse
to maintain contact with officials of this newly renamed department of
the Georgian government," said Shamba.
The Georgian administration appointed as the Minister of
Reunion Temur Yakobashvili, Vice President of the Georgian Foundation
for Strategic and International Studies. Right after his appointment to
his new post, Yakobashvili said in his official statement that the
Georgian government should not solely be satisfied with a reclaim of its
control over Abkhazian soil but it also should win the support from
Abkhazians: “ has lost Abkhazia as well as Abkhazians. My government
will, I guess, have to take a multidimensional approach. There will be
direct contact on my government’s part with both Abkhazians and
South Ossetians .”
Renaming this department of Georgian government came as a
sign of ’s President Mikheil Saakashvili’s decidedness to keep his
election promise to take the over the control of both Abkhazia and
South Ossetia in 2008. With the former Georgian
official David Bakradze, who was in charge of the renamed department of
Georgian government, being appointed now to the post of ’s foreign
minister, the Georgian government is soon expected to bring up its issue
about Abkhazia and
South Ossetia for discussion on an
It was in the July of 2006 when negotiations between the
two countries came to a halt after the then Georgian administration
acted in violation of the cease fire agreement and located troops in
Upper Kodor. The Abkhazian government at that
time made it a stipulation for the resumption of talks that should
withdraw its troops from
Upper Kodor . The United Nations' Security
Council also released a call on the Georgian administration to disarm
the area. The United Nations' Group of Georgia's Friends stepped in to
get officials from both countries afterwards to meet on two separate
occasions to talk about whether negotiations could be resumed. The first
meeting was held in Genova, on February 12 and 13, while the second one
on June 28 and 29. Also, David Bakradze, a Georgian official in charge
of attempts to resolve conflicts, went to Abkhazia and talked with
Shamba in October 2007 about the chances of seven kidnapped Abkhazian
guards getting released.
Peacekeepers Stay in Abkhazia
The UN Security
Council on Wednesday discussed the situation in Abkhazia. The Security
Council did not even consider replacing Russian peacekeepers in the
conflict zone but accepted Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s
suggestion to overview a peacekeeping process.
General Ban Ki-moon released a report shortly before the session to
support an idea to overview the peacekeeping process in the conflict
zone, which Mikhail Saakashvili proposed at the UN session last fall.
The Georgian president also pressed then for the withdrawal of Russian
peacekeepers from the zone to replace them with an EU contingent.
Saakashvili, however, ditched his hard-line rhetoric after his win at
the presidential election. In a news conference at the PACE in
Strasbourg last week he said he was no longer considering the idea as
The UN secretary
general said in his report that all accusations against CIS peacekeepers
proved to be wrong. He also said the resolution of the Kosovo issue may
have an influence of developments in Abkhazia. “The Georgian government
has made it clear several times that it will be considering the
possibility of Russia’s recognizing Abkhazia differently depending to
the results of the upcoming discussion of Kosovo’s status.”
Russia’s envoy to
the UN Vitaly Churkin followed a recent warming in relations with
Georgia and praises “some positive statements” which were voiced in the
country after the presidential election.
It is still,
however, unclear when and how the peacekeeping process will be
overviewed. In any case, the Security Council is meeting in April for a
session on Georgia to adopt a resolution to prolong the UN presence in
the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone.
fanning fears in Georgian-Abkhaz dispute, says Ban Ki-moon
misrepresentations is generating tensions between the Georgian and
Abkhaz sides in their dispute and the communities on both sides of the
ceasefire line should exercise restraint, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
says in a new report to the Security Council.
While there has
been no incident between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in the past few
months, there have been “a string of allegations concerning either the
deployment of forces on both sides of the ceasefire line or incidents
involving the Abkhaz forces or the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent
States] peacekeeping force,” he writes in his latest
report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.
He voices concern
about the “disconnect” between realities on the ground and media or
official statements. As it is, an “image of the enemy” is already
pervasive among communities on both sides of the ceasefire line, he
writes, warning that “Fanning fear and hostility through
misrepresentation will only entrench it further.”
on both sides commented that the relationship between the two sides was
last year at its lowest point since the widespread violence of 1998,
according to the report.
“The two electoral
campaigns that took place in 2007, for the Georgian presidency and the
de facto Abkhaz parliament, illustrated once again the deep rift between
the political aspirations of the sides and their constituencies, with
reunification and independence seen as top, non-negotiable priorities in
Tbilisi and Sukhumi, respectively, and promoted with an equal sense of
Mr. Ban calls for
confidence-building measures to be introduced, on areas including
security dialogue, the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and
refugees and economic rehabilitation, so that momentum can be
established towards a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict.
He notes that the
UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)
is working towards this goal and is also hoping to improve its
monitoring abilities in the Kodori Valley, where the difficult terrain
and security risks make unmanned aerial vehicles the best option.
developing standard operating procedures for the use of such vehicles so
that there can be no possible misuse outside the mandate of the mission
– an issue that has been raised, particularly by the Abkhaz side.
As of 1 January,
UNOMIG had 133 military observers from 32 countries in place to verify
the ceasefire agreement between the Georgian Government and the Abkhaz
01.25.2008 UN News Service
when he promised to return Abkhazian shrines to Georgian Church -
Sukhum, The recent promise of
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to return Abkhazian shrines to
the jurisdiction of the Georgian Orthodox Church was groundless,
administrator of the Sukhumi and Abkhazia Diocese priest Vissarion Aplia
‘The Abkhazian Church is in no way related
to Georgia and the Georgian Church, Saakashvili has no right to declare
that the Abkhazian Church will return to Georgia’s fold,’ Fr. Vissarion
told an Interfax correspondent on Thursday.
According to the priest, Saakashvili’s
promise is ‘a lie and the lie is always punished.’
There are 144 Orthodox churches in
Abkhazia, though only 20 of them work.
Abkhazia says opened
fire on Georgian ships, Georgia denies
Sukhum, Abkhazia opened fire on two Georgian naval vessels that
entered the Abkhazia's territorial waters, the spokesman for Abkhazia's
president said Wednesday, but Georgia denied the incident.
Kristian Bzhania said the ships were detected 4 miles from the Gagida
settlement in the Gal District. "In line with orders received,
Abkhazia's coastal services opened fire on the vessels after which the
Georgian ships left Abkhazia's territorial waters," he said.
Georgia's Navy mainly consists of patrol vessels and landing craft.
Georgia's border police denied the incident. "The information from
Abkhazia that Georgian naval vessels were near Abkhazian coast is untrue,"
spokeswoman Lela Mchedlidze said.
Russia says Kosovo
creates precedent for separatists
Moscow, (Reuters) -
Independence for the Serbian province of Kosovo would create a precedent
which will be used by separatists elsewhere around the world, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
Lavrov told a news conference that
Russia had never said Kosovo independence would lead Moscow to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia
"The precedent will be created not
because we want it but because it will be objectively created ...
because justice is an understanding that drives people. If someone is
allowed to do something, many others will expect similar treatment."
Russia, along with its close ally
Serbia, has long resisted independence for Kosovo, arguing it could set
a precedent for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as other disputed
regions in the former Soviet Union.
Lavrov said "we need to do
everything so that the status of Kosovo is resolved within the framework
of international law" rather than assuming independence would come,
which he described as "defeatist".
Kosovo independence would set a
precedent not just for the disputed Georgian territories but for "200
territories" around the world, he added.
Russia has no plans
to back independence for Abkhazia, S.Ossetia
Russia has never declared its
readiness to recognize the sovereignty of ex-Soviet breakaway provinces
if Kosovo's independence is declared, Russia's foreign minister said on
"Russia's leadership has never
stated that after Kosovo we would recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia,"
Sergei Lavrov told journalists.
"It is deeply ingrained in the minds
of many that Russia has a firm position as regards Kosovo, warning that
this will be a precedent, while hoping in its heart of hearts that this
will happen in order to follow it up with a recognition [of the
independence] of all and sundry in the neighborhood," he said, adding
that "nothing could be further from a true understanding of Russia's
He also said Russia, which has had
its own separatist problems, most notably in the Chechen Republic, was
interested in maintaining stability and preventing separatist trends and
violations of international law.
However, Lavrov went on, "A
precedent will be created not because we want it but because it will be
objectively created ... If someone is permitted to do something, many
others will expect similar treatment."
Russia has long been against any
unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence, a position its envoy to
the troika of international mediators on Kosovo reiterated last December
in one of many recent Russian comments making clear the country's
"A unilateral declaration of
independence would be in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
In this event, Russia would demand a revocation and nullification of the
decision," Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said.
Voices in Russia's State Duma, the
country's lower house of parliament, are now calling for recognition of
the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia if Kosovo is recognized as independent by the international
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are de
facto independent republics striving to split from the ex-Soviet
republic of Georgia and join Russia.
"If this [recognition of Kosovo's
independence] happens, we will have to recognize the independence of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia," a Just Russia MP said on Wednesday.
The Albanian-dominated Serbian
province of Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since the NATO bombing of
the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Albanian and Serb forces
Most Western states back the
volatile area's drive for independence, and recently agreed that
Kosovo's status would be determined by the European Union and NATO.
Russia insists that Belgrade and Pristina continue to seek a compromise.
Kosovo's recently elected prime
minister, Hashim Thaci, earlier said Pristina's independence was an
accomplished fact and would be declared as soon as the United States and
the European Union were ready to recognize it.
Russia warns Kosovo
independence could set dangerous precedent
Russia has warned that if, as
expected, Kosovo achieves its independence from Serbia, it will
encourage separatists across the world. Moscow is a close ally of Serbia
and both strongly oppose Kosovo's plans to unilaterally declare
independence within months.
Alluding to pro-Russian separatist
movements in Georgia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "It
will set a precedent for several territories, not only Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, but - according to our figures - for some 200 regions in
states around the world. If we allow someone to do something, many
others will expect the same treatment."
Belgrade wants to hold on to what it
sees as an important part of Serbian cultural heritage. But ethnic
Albanians, who make up around 90 per cent of the province's population,
have long been waiting for independence.
Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci
assures them the wait will soon be over. "We'll proclaim our
independence as soon as possible. Everything that we will do, we'll do
through our close cooperation and coordination with our partners
Washington and Brussels," he said.
Washington and Brussels back
Kosovo's plans, although some EU countries have voiced concerns. The EU
has proposed a 1,800-strong force to replace the UN mission that's been
in place since 1999.
Abkhazia hopes to
be locus of Arabic investment
A group of British businessmen of Arabic origin was in Abkhazia last
week to search for possible opportunities to do business there.
Nadhmi Auchi, who first set up the General Mediterranean
Holding and later has begun presiding over the Anglo-Arabic
Organization, and members of his immediate entourage met with Sergei
Bagapsh, President of Abkhazia.
The meeting was largely about a conveyance of information
from the president to the British businessmen both about the current
political as well as economic side to Abkhazia and its chances to
attract foreign investment.
Whereas Mr. Auchi expressed concern for trouble with the
denial of international recognition to Abkhazia, he said this would not
stop his group from investing in the country.
"My group has high hopes of making huge amounts of
investment in this small, lovely country. General Mediterranean already
has its investments in several other countries. It now seeks to include
Abkhazia in its list of countries to pour money into. We are just strict
with our principle that cooperation should bring out mutual benefit.
Therefore, Abkhazia's compliance with this principle would return it a
tangible inflow of money."
Mr. Auchi also expressed willingness to make contacts
with Arabs as well as Europeans in a bid to help Abkhazia earn
Mr. Auchi also met with Parliament Speaker Nugzar Ashuba.
Mr. Ashuba was pleased to meet with Mr. Auchi and his friends. "We will
prioritize our national interests when we try attracting foreign
investment. The British group was briefed about how our legal system
works. And this group had also its evaluation of Abkhazia well before it
came to the country."
Mr. Auchi is a billionaire who is the Chief Executive
Officer of General Mediterranean, based in . His holding contains 100
companies across the world with business activities in several sectors,
like media, holiday resorts, energy, etc. Mr. Auchi is also the owner of
ANB, a London-based satellite television company.
Tie Russia and Georgia Tights -
The Price of the Question
Plagiarizing Pushkin I’d say: “A
shadow of Lavrov fell over the hills of
The shadow fell on the occasion of the inauguration of President
Saakashvili. Mind your, it was Lavrov’s shadow, not that of Medvedev,
for example. The
Russian foreign minister
came to Georgia to have a look at the second edition of the Georgian
protocol courtesies it was also important because Saakashvili won the
poll even without the run-off, and, second, he secured 72.5 percent of
the vote to support Georgia’s bid to join NATO.
Also, he said Georgia needs to mend the tattered relations with Russia,
which may mean that the anti-Russian rhetoric in Tbilisi will wane.
Saakashvili may be pushed to it by another situation. Georgia elected
the old president while Russia will soon see a new leader coming to
power although he is stigmatized by the idea of succession. Dmitry
Medvedev has been largely unseen in the field of foreign policy, and his
voice was not heard in critical moments of the Russian-Georgian
stand-off. In addition, relations between the country have already hit
such a low that there is no way deeper underground.
But we should not
expect fast progress right now. You can’t start from the clean slate.
Even some of the writings on it are hard to rub off. Neither the
Abkhazian nor the South Ossetian issue is not going to evaporate in a
moment if they are ever going to be resolved. What is more, Russia and
Georgia are in for another trial – that of Kosovo. Everyone knows that
Kosovo’s independence will be recognized sooner or later. It is just a
question of time.
If we follow
Moscow’s diplomatic logic, the recognition of Kosovo will open the door
for the recognition of independent Abkhazia. This could be contested
casually, but it is way too late to try to explain to Russian and
Abkhazian societies why one is allowed to some and prohibited for the
Moscow will be
trapped once the Kosovo issue is resolved. Recognizing Abkhazia’s
sovereignty is impossible at least because this will create a precedent
and set an example to other restive territories in the former Soviet
republics – not only for Nagorno-Karabakh. Not recognizing Abkhazia will
also be fraught with negative consequences. Moscow in this case will
show that its foreign policy is not worth much, and it will look weak in
the eyes of peoples of the North Caucasus where losers are not respected
– and by the way, politicians have re-appeared there who are ready to
send volunteers to fight for Abkhazia. I suppose Russian guests will
also have to discuss this issue in Tbilisi.
mission is not an easy one. All the more, no one in Tbilisi is really
pro-Russian. But let’s keep in mind that there are two parties in
Russian-Georgian relations. It is important as ever now how the
Kremlin is going to react. Is Moscow
going to be ready to give up at least an inch of its stringent course,
or does it see no difference between Saakashvili 1 and Saakashvili 2?
expert at the Moscow Carnegie Center
A detailed atlas of
Abkhazia now available
A new atlas that has in it both physical and geographical maps of
Abkhazia is now available.
was published by the Cartography and General Geography Department of the
Abkhazian Department. It is the first step towards making a detailed map
of Abkhazia available. The atlas contains a total of 70 maps, some of
which are physical and some are georaphical. The maps have notes by
Head of the Abkhazian Department of Geography. A map of this kind is
important to have because it delimits the boundaries of Abkhazia as a
country of the north-western
Abkhazia sees no
future in talks with Georgia's Saakashvili
With Saakashvili in power in Georgia, a
Georgian-Abkhazian dialogue has no future. That is the opinion of
Abkhazia's President Sergei Bagapsh. The opposition says elections in
Georgia were rigged, but for Bagapsh they were merely "elections in a
Sukhum, Abkhazia's President Sergei Bagapsh
believes that any talks with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili have
little chance of achieving a breakthrough, Interfax reported
" - If another president had been elected, it could have
been possible to resume dialogue with Georgia, but not on Abkhazia's
political status. Any talks with Saakashvili in the current situation
have no future," says Sergei Bagapsh, commenting on the officially
announced victory of Mikheil Saakashvili in the Georgian snap
Although the election was marred with irregularities,
leading Western officials, including spokesmen for NATO and the OSCE (Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe) quickly recognized Saakashvili's
The opposition claims it has evidence of fraud that
invalidated up to 100,000 votes. Independent NGOs have compiled 450
instances of vote rigging throughout the country. If tallied correctly,
the voters would have forced Mikheil Saakashvili into a second round,
opening the door for a united opposition campaign and his potential loss
of the presidency.
Election fraud, voter intimidation in Georgia
Independent journalists and human rights campaigners in
Georgia say that the election campaign was fraught with abuse as the
government sought to keep Saakashvili in power despite widespread voter
Saakashvili’s popular support has collapsed, after he
received the Soviet-like result of 96 percent of the vote in uncontested
elections in 2004.
The Georgian leader's time in power has been filled with
controversy and lowering living standards. According to the
International Monetary Fund, poverty levels remain at about 30 percent
and unemployment is increasing. Distrust in the judiciary has soared
from 36 percent of respondents in 2004 to 62 percent in 2006.
Opposition demands for reform have been met with
heavyhanded responses from Saakashvili's government. According to a
Human Rights Watch report with the title Crossing the Line,
some 50,000 demonstrators were peacefully calling for elections and the
release of political prisoners. Demands were made for Saakashvili to
resign. In response, the police and army used “violent and excessive
force” involving tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against
fleeing protesters that resulted in hundreds of people requiring
hospital treatment. The government forces then attacked the
private-owned Imedi TV station, beat up journalists and smashed up their
broadcasting equipment so extensively that it took more than a month and
well into the election campaign before the TV station could begin
Russia questions OSCE double standards
The Western powers’ rush to legitimise the election
result and declare Saakashvili victorious was in marked contrast to the
bitter attacks made on the Russian parliamentary elections held on
December 2 when the leader of the Organisation for Security and
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, Göran Lennmarker,
unilaterally declared that “It was not a fair election.”
This time, the chief of the OSCE electoral monitoring
mission in Georgia, US congressman Alcee Hastings, did not even wait for
the polling to finish before declaring—on the morning of January 5—that
democracy had taken a triumphant step in Georgia and that “by virtue of
hard competition during the election campaign, I think, these elections
were the choice of the Georgian nation.”
In contrast, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned
Hastings’s “premature” and “superficial” remarks about “the triumph of
Georgian democracy” and stated that the election campaign was not “free
and fair.” It claimed that the media, non-governmental organizations and
opposition figures had reported numerous cases of violations of the
electoral laws by the state and that “the presidential race was marked
by the widespread use of administrative resources, open pressure on
opposition candidates and severe limitations on their access to
financial and media sources.” The Foreign Ministry statement reminded
its readers that the election campaign “was actually launched against
the background of a state of emergency” - something which the West
condemned when Pakistan's president recently toyed with the idea of
doing the same.
Abkhazia: Elections took place in another country
In Abkhazia, the proof of fraud in Georgia's election has
little effect. Whether or not there the widespread vote rigging took
place, Abkhazia remains unaffected, its President says.
" - The elections in Georgia mean nothing to Abkhazia.
These were elections in a neighboring state," Bagapsh told Interfax.
Like Pridnestrovie, Abkhazia seeks international
recognition of its 'de facto' independence. All eyes are on its own
future as an independent, sovereign country and it has little interest
in the domestic politics of Georgia.
With Kosovo inching closer to independence, Abkhazia has
announced that it sees Kosovo as a precedent. It rejects double
standards which attempt to rally support for Kosovo's independence while
rejecting the same right to Abkhazia. Others have pointed out that such
a policy of double standards will not work in the long run. In an op-ed
in the International Herald Tribune with the title "Let's Get Real",
America's Future Foundation and German Council on Foreign Relations
scholars Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman focused on the need for a
realistic approach to the issue of frozen conflicts on the territory of
the former Soviet Union. The co-authors of the book "Ethical Realism: A
Vision for America's Role in the World" called for a major initiative to
permanently resolve the conflict over the disputed regions of Abkhazia
and South Ossetia. Lieven and Hulsman asked why the West maintains
double standards about self-determination for NATO-hosting Kosovo but
not for areas like Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
More hope in Moldova / Pridnestrovie situation
Although chilly, relations between Moldova and
Pridnestrovie are not as bad as those between Georgia and Abkhazia. In
the case of Pridnestrovie, which is also known under the name
Transdniestria, its President Igor Smirnov has recently expressed a
willingness to renew status settlement talks with Moldova. In the case
of Moldova, its President Vladimir Voronin also wants to restart the
Pridnestrovie has asked that Moldova respects agreements
that the two sides signed in 1997, 2001 and 2003. Pridnestrovie also
wants Moldova to refrain from using pressure tactics, such as threats of
economic or military pressure.
" - If we can agree to sit down and talk as grown-ups,
without any sort of pressure and in a discussion of equals, then there
is hope that we can reach an understanding on a number of items," says
Smirnov. "But of course, Moldova has to honor the agreements that it
signed in previous talks. Otherwise, what is the point of starting a new
round if the earlier achievements are no longer worth the paper that
they are written on," asks President Smirnov.
01.16.2008 Tiraspol Times
dialogue under Saakashvili has no future - Bagapsh
Sukhum, President of the republic of Abkhazia
Sergei Bagapsh thinks that any talks with Georgian President Mikheil
Saakashvili have little chance of achieving a breakthrough.
"The elections in Georgia mean nothing to Abkhazia. These
were elections in a neighboring state," Bagapsh told Interfax on Sunday,
commenting on the officially announced victory of Mikheil Saakashvili in
the Georgian snap presidential elections.
"If another president had been elected, it could have
been possible to resume dialogue with Georgia, but not on Abkhazia's
political status. Any talks with Saakashvili in the current situation
have no future," the Abkhaz leader said.
Abkhazia to have
officials to represent itself in North Cyprus
Gunjia, Deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, was in the Turkish Republic
of Northern Cyprus, or TRNC, between January 5 and 8, 2008, to reinforce
his administration's efforts to make contacts with diplomats of the
countries, including TRNC as well, that have not got official
recognition from the United Nations yet. The administration of Abkhazia
has it as its goal to have a body of officials to represent itself in
The Abkhazian official’s visit to the TRNC will be
followed by other official trips to Taiwan and Somaliland.
Gunjia said in his statement released on Wednesday that
his administration aimed both at improving its relations with North
Cyprus and making contacts with representatives of both the Abkhazian
Diaspora as well as of the government there. "Cyprus currently hosts as
many as 500 Abkhazians who are the sons and daughters of former
immigrants from Abkhazia who had to leave the home country after a war
broke out between Russia and Caucasus. My administration is seeking ways
to improve its economic as well as cultural relations with the TRNC,
because both countries have many things in common to share."
Gunjia spoke of future visits to Taiwan and Somaliland as
well when he stressed the very thing all those four countries share in
common about universal recognition of their independence.
The administration of Abkhazia currently maintains
diplomatic relations with both South Ossetia and Transdinester--both are
'de facto' independent. South Ossetia is following in the footsteps of
Abkhazia in its efforts to separate from Georgia on the one hand, and
Transdinyester from Moldavia on the other.
Taiwan, an East Asian island, south of both China and
Japan, and north of Philippines, is a country yet without its officially
announced independence. While a group of Taiwanese nationalists founded
Taiwan as the Republic of China in 1949 when they fled from the
communist regime in China, Taiwan could not stop in 1979 China from
replacing its place at the United Nations. The administration of China
views Taiwan as its part, with a different regime though. Also, the
Chinese administration threats Taiwan with a move to occupy it if the
government of Taiwan ever attempts to announce its independence.
is a country of
square meters situated in the Horn of Africa that
announced its independence in 1991 from Somali. The people of this
country claim to have owned, before Somali's gain of its own
independence, the British Somaliland, the Guld of Aden, Djibouti, and
opposition angry at electoral forgery
Leaders of the Georgian opposition voiced anger at Levan Tarkhnishvili,
Head of the Central Committee of Election, on accusations against
letting embezzlement and infraction of rules occur through the January 5
presidential elections in Georgia.
who is leading the United Opposition Movement, made his way into Tarkhnishvili's
office and pressed Tarkhnishvili
for resignation. "At least 500,000 votes that went to me just
disappeared," said Gachechiladze when he argued that the elections were
cheated. After Gachechiladze accused Tarhinishvili of compromising on
the election cheat, he asked Tarhinisvili the question of why the
Georgian people were barred from knowing the actual results.
Gachechiladze vowed to go on a hunger strike to protest the election
outcome. "I will keep fighting until Mikheil Saakashvili and Nino Burjanadze
kill me," he said. Gachechiladze was reported to be accompanied by some
leading members of the United Opposition when he was in Tarkhnishvili's
turned down the demand for his resignation because he said that he had
been appointed to his post not by the opposition but by the parliament.
called on the opposition leaders to leave his office. Giorgi Tortladze,
another opposition leader, said that he had two different versions of
the election result from one same region. Tina Hidasheli, who is leading
the opposition Republican Party, said that the votes that went to
Mikheil Saakashvili were forged. Salome Zurabishvili, head of the
Georgian Path Party and former Foreign Minister, said that the
opposition would succeed in documenting proof for forgery in the
elections and get the second stage of elections done.
Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili won 52
percent of the votes on January 5.
presidential candidates count on Abkhazia and S. Ossetia for success
presidential candidates of Georgia appear to rely heavily for success on
Abkhazia and South Ossetia as the two primary elements of their campaign
vows while they run for the January 5 elections.
The oath to take over the administrative control of both
of the two 'de facto' independent countries came from all presidential
candidates of Georgia.
Mikheil Saakashvili, former President of Georgia, was
nominated by the ruling National Unity Movement as the presidential
candidate. He vowed during the days of 'The Revolution of Roses' in late
2003 when he ran for the presidency to bring both Abkhazia and South
Ossetia back under the governmental control of Georgia. He pronounced
his same oath of election again before the January 5 presidential
elections, with the primary significance attached to it this time.
Levan Gacheciladze, who will stand in the presidential
elections as the opposition candidate, promised to develop a peaceful
attitude towards the issue at hand as long as he was supported by Russia
as well as by the international community to do so. Gacheciladze also
stressed the need for the presence of a direct dialogue between Abkhazia
and South Ossetia.
Georgi Maisashvili, who is heading the Party of Future,
is thinking along the lines of Gachechiladze in stressing the need on
the part of Georgia to seek cooperation on friendly terms with Russia
before it deals with the question of Abkhazia as well as South Ossetia,
because Georgia can achieve to have a dialogue with both Abkhazia and
South Ossetia only after it can develop a relationship on friendly terms
Natelashvili, who was fielded by the Labour Party as the presidential
candidate, vowed to improve in the first place his country's relations
with both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. His choice of this method for
solving the problem in question was similar to that of both Gacheciladze
and Maisahvili: Georgia primarily has to improve its relations with
Russia and then to seek a way of taking over the governmental control of
both Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
While Georgia is going through a very tough period on its way to the
January 5 presidential elections, Abkhazia has already turned eyes to
Kosovo, which is expected to announce its independence from Serbia soon.
Abkhazia is one of the countries that experiences
immediate effects of whatever happens across the Balkans. It is looking
forward to being internationally recognized just as Kosovo has recently
gained such recognition from both the United States and the European
Union. The administration of Sukhum, capital city of Abkhazia, maintains
high hopes even though Russia fears that its possible recognition of
both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries will first
cause trouble in the future, second encourage the seven other North
Caucasian republics to separate from the federation, and third lead to
the loss of the whole region after hundreds of years of bloody wars and
Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh said: "While Kosovo is
located at the very heart of Serbia, Abkhazia is already an entirely
independent country. It was one of the republics that made up the Soviet
Union; however, it was later forced to become part of Georgia through
the efforts of both Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria, who was then Chief
Secret Police Officer as well as Secretary General of the Communist
Party of Georgia."
"The United States put it clearly that it would recognize
Kosovo. This will set an example for us. We expect Russia to recognize
Abkhazia," Sergei Bagapsh, Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, told
The Abkhazian people maintain a similar expectation, as
well. Svetlana Adleyiba, who is living in Sukhum, said that a possible
recognition of Kosovo as an independent state will give us the chance to
get world-wide recognition and to lead a better life.
There is also a widespread rumor that when Russia
recognizes Abkhazia, it will then possibly create a Domino effect and
prompt Georgia to recognize Chechnya and other countries will do the
same thing for others as well.
Saakashvili, who resigned as Georgia's president to be legally able to
run again in the elections, vowed openly to take control in 2008 over
both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is, however, worth asking how
Saakashvili, whose words remind the 1992 extremely nationalist Georgian
administration, will manage to do so when Abkhazia's chances for
international recognition are high.