-------------------- News from Abkhazia --------------------

 Abkhazia leader says no talks with Georgia without preconditions


Moscow, The President of Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh, categorically dismissed on Tuesday the possibility of negotiations with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili without any precondition, to which Europe is urging.


“This will not happen,” he stressed in a newspaper interview. “I know why they need tete-a-tete talks of the presidents - in order to say then that Bagapsh and Saakashvili are meeting, and they would have had normal relations if Russia had not interfered,” the Abkhaz leader stressed.


“We won’t give them such a motive,” he said in an interview with the Kommersant daily on Tuesday.


“After the war we had a constructive dialogue with them, but the arrival of Saakashvili has put paid to it,” he stressed. “These people don’ t understand that apart from the use of force there are also negotiations. They don’t understand that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are not boys in short pants, but full-fledged partners in negotiations,” Bagapsh emphasized.


Bagapsh also specified that Abkhazia does not link “its fight for independence with the recognition of Kosovo”. However, it such decision on Kosovo is approved, “it will untie the hands of other states for the recognition of Abkhazia, the Dniester region, Nagorno Karabakh and South Ossetia,” he believes.


07.31.2007  Itar-Tass


 Abkhazia to be satisfied with the report of the Secretary-General - MFA Shamba


Abkhaz side is fully satisfied with the report of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued today, Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba reported in an interview with the Official website of the President.


According to him, the UN Secretary General reflected in the report all the points, at which official Sukhum focused at the meeting of the “Group of Friends” in Bonn (Germany), held about a month ago.

Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba
"Our concern over the situation in the upper Kodor Valley was adequately received by the international community. And those points that were outlined in the report of the "Group of Friends" appeared in the report of the UN Secretary General, and we are certainly pleased," said chief diplomat of Abkhazia.


"We are also glad that the international community has explicitly stated that the Georgian side must move the youth camp near the border with Abkhazia in another place," said Shamba.


Sergei Shamba hopes that the international pressure on Georgia in connection with its desire to escalate tensions will grow.


"Even though a month has already passed since the meeting in Bonn, real steps to implement the agreement that we have reached there have not started. Georgia continues to ignore the suggestions of the international community," stressed the Foreign Minister.


According to Shamba, it is primarily on the joint investigation into the kidnapping in the Gal region of a citizen of Abkhazia David Sigua.


The investigation team has not yet started its work.


07.24.2007  Abkhazia.gov.org


 Abkhazia puts focus back on homecoming


Sukhum, Agency CaucasusThe Abkhazian administration places focus on homecoming from Diaspora over again after earlier official attempts failed to meet expectations.


The Abkhazian Parliamentary Committee for Return held a meeting in an effort to draw up a newer official program of encouragement for future returns from Diaspora.


The committee meeting promoted a proposal to meet the needs prior to the settling of Abazins as a whole.


Words of support for anyone who wants to return to Abkhazia came from the Parliament Speaker Nugzar Ashuba when he proposed that further work with schooling both at college and university levels should be developed.


Soner Gogua, an Abkhazian member of the parliament of Turkish descent, who acts as head of the committee, was heard to place emphasis on the need to provide accommodation as well as employment for returnees.


Information about returnees came from Anzor Mukba, Head of the State Committee for Demography and Return. He quoted a total of 571 families as being officially accommodated from 2005 to 2007. Those families include the Abkhazians who came both from and Batum, and the Abazins who came from Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria and . A group of 282 people switched in 2005 to Abkhazian citizenship, 1246 in 2006 and 122 in 2007.


Most returnees are seeking a place to occupy in the capital city of Sukhum.


Returnees have to agree not to sell their houses for the next 15 years if they want to be officially accommodated.


One of the participants at the committee meeting was Sergei Shamba, Foreign Minister of Abkhazia. He delivered to other participants some information both about the Georgian Group of Friends meeting at the headquarters of United Nations (UN) Secretary General and his talks with several officials about Abkhazian Diaspora.


A returnee of Turkish descent captured in Tbilisi


Gogua asked Shamba for help with the release of a returnee of Abkhazian citizenship when he spoke about an incident in which Georgian front guards arrested members of a crew on a Turkish vessel while it was carrying coal from Abkhazia.


07.19.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Shamba returns with words of promise


Sukhum, Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba of Abkhazia returned with positive words from the meeting of Georgia’s Group of Friends at the headquarters of United Nations (UN) Secretary-General.


Shamba told reporters that his talks with officials across Germany left him with the impression that there is nowadays a far more positive view of the Abkhazian demand for recognition.


“Even those who would think it impossible for Abkhazia to gain recognition of independence now tend to have a change for better in their outlook,” the official news agency Apsnipress quoted Shamba as saying.


The June 27 and 28 meeting of Georgia’s Group of Friends in Bonn was far better in comparison with previous meetings, said Shamba. This group enables negotiation with Georgians, he added.


“Talks of this kind give us one importance chance of expressing our own position. All criticism went to Georgia during the entire meeting. There was also discussion over Georgian willingness to withdraw from Kodor as a prior condition for resumption in talks,” Shamba said.


Good news about Turkey


Talks at the meeting focused at one moment, said Shamba, on the surprising possibility of creating between Sukhum and Trabzon a means of marine transportation by which the Abkhazians in Diaspora can maintain contact with their homeland.


“One of the items that appeared on the list of to-dos after the meeting ended was the establishing of transportation between Sukhum and Trabzon. The Georgian proposition that vessels must stop by the ports of both Poti and Batum for controlling was rejected. Another Georgian proposition that vessels must be controlled within the waters of Georgian border security was also rejected. These two rejections helped us to maintain firmly that vessels must be controlled by the Abkhazian border security, along with assistance from United Nations (UN) military observers as well as the Peace Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).”


Shamba spoke for Abkhazia when he said his government seeks continuation of peace talks under UN supervision.


Abkhazian Diaspora most active in Germany


Germany was defined in Shamba’s words as the central European country where the Abkhazian Diaspora is most active as he expressed growing optimism for the future after he met in Düsseldorf with a large group of participants from several European countries.


07.18.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Preparations under way in Abkhazia for chess festival


Sukhum, Abkhazia is preparing for the next international chess championship as a series of games played among contestants from across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).


As many as 400 contestants, including 12-20 professional chess players who formerly gained titles, will take part in August in the fourth festal Abkhazia OPEN Sokhum-2007 chess championship.


The organization one before attracted participation of 141 players from Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Abkhazia.


“This will be one of the most significant festival of chess games across the CIS countries. Famous chess players from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will compete to win the Abkhazia-2007 championship. All Russian republics will have the chance to be represented at the festival. A group of 30 from Tatarstan and famous chess players from several North Caucasian republics will join the festival, too. The entire Chechen team of chess players will be present under the leadership of Ruslan Yandarbiyev for the festival,” said Konstantin Tujba, Head of the Abkhazian Chess Federation.


Tujba also said that some chess players who have joined in Vancouver the Canada Open 2007 championship seem eager to join the Abkhazia chess festival. Information about and photographs of the entire festival will be accessible at www.abkhaziachess.ru. This organization of chess games will hopefully revive the old public habit of playing traditional games. The Abkhazian chess festival was first organized in 2004, when only 12 players from Abkhazia attended the competition. This year’s participation from Abkhazia is 25.


The name of Yuri Chanba will also be commemorated in a tournament as part of this chess festival, since Chanba worked hard in Abkhazia to expand chess.


The Abkhazia OPEN Sokhum-2006 ended with Boris Savchenko from Krasnodar winning the first position at the championship, with Roman Ovechkin from Nijnii Tagil winning the second position, and with Yuri Tikhonov from Belarus winning the third position.


07.15.2007  Agency Caucasus


 TV channel to be set up in Abkhaz district - official


Moscow, A local television channel will be set up in Gal, a district in Abkhazia that lies along the Georgian border and includes a demilitarized zone patrolled by Russian peacekeepers, a senior Abkhaz official was quoted on Wednesday as saying.


The channel would broadcast in the Russian, Abkhaz and Megrelian languages, the Abkhaz president's official website said, citing Ruslan Kishmaria, his envoy to Gal district and chief Abkhaz negotiator with Georgia. There is a large Megrelian community in Gal, the bulk of whose population are ethnic Georgians.


"It is an essentially new project, one that we have been planning to put into practice for several years. This project is of strategic significance in the sense of the integration of the district into the space of Abkhazia," the site quoted Kishmaria as saying.


The channel would broadcast daily news bulletins "about the life of the area and the entire country," Kishmaria said.


07.11.2007  Interfax


 Parliament discussed measures to enhance safety of higher officers


Sukhum, The National Assembly in the first reading adopted changes in the legislation governing the protection of the higher authorities.


The Parliament intends to strengthen protection of senior government officials.


The Parliament of Abkhazia adopted in the first reading amendments to the Administrative Code, prohibiting the use of vehicles with tinted windows. If the law is adopted only official government vehicles will be allowed to move with tinted windows. Conditions of coloring glass of citizens’ cars will be discussed in further readin.


07.11.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Parliament adopted laws on state emblem and flag of the republic of Abkhazia


Sukhum, People's Assembly-Parliament of Abkhazia adopted in the final reading a new version of the State emblem and flag of the Republic of Abkhazia. So far, laws on national symbols of 1992 and 1994were acting.


"Projects of constitutional laws do not change the existing state flag, emblem and anthem, they are to regulate the use and application of the official state symbols and their legal protection", said senior officer of the law and economics department of the Presidential Administration Dmitri Shamba to the Official Site of the President. In particular, it is provided that the State flag to be raised and the National Emblem to be placed on the buildings: the Presidential Administration, the People's Assembly-Parliament, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Supreme Court, the Arbitration Court, the General Prosecutor's Office, National Bank, as well as the buildings of the public administration and local self-government bodies.


07.11.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Terror act in Gudauta to be threat to the statehood of the country - Government


Sukhum, The government of Abkhazia issued a statement in connection with the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Alexander Ankuab, in which the terror act in Gudauta is called threat to the statehood of the country.


The Cabinet of Ministers stressed that the attack on Prime Minister threatens to destabilize the situation in the country and eventually work for the interests of those who are interested in the elimination of the statehood of Abkhazia.


Earlier almost the entire political spectrum reacted to the terror attack that took place in Gudauta. The statements were distributed by the parties "United Abkhazia", "Amtsakhara", "Aitaira", and the Popular Unity Forum, which units a group of opposition political forces.


Political forces claimed from the law enforcement agencies effective investigation and to bring those responsible to justice.


A number of political movements appealed to the President and to the law enforcement authorities demanding to the suspend law enforcement officers, the work of which is unsatisfactory.


Today, the President Sergei Bagapsh will meet with the country's political forces to discuss the situation in the country in connection with the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister.


07.10.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Abkhaz Premier Attacked


Sukhum, Unidentified assailants opened fire on a car carrying the prime minister of Abkhazia on Monday, lightly injuring him, officials said.


A grenade launcher was apparently used in the attack on Alexander Ankuab, who has survived three assassination attempts since he took office in early 2005, said Abkhazia's top police official, Otar Khetsiya. There was no word on suspects or a motive.


Ankuab's car came under fire in the morning while en route to Sukhum, the capital of the Black Sea republic, Khetsiya said.


Ankuab said a grenade hit the trunk of the car, Interfax reported. He said he had shrapnel wounds in his back and was shaken up by the blast, but that nobody was seriously injured in the attack. (AP)


07.10.2007  The Moscow Times


 There are forces in Abkhazia which prevent reforms and against organized crime -  President


Sukhum, Head of State made a statement in connection with the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Alexander Ankuab.


The President announced a compensation of 500,000 rubles for information that will help to disclose the crime.


"Repeated attempts to remove the Prime Minister of the country indicate only one thing : there are certain groups that are actively trying to prevent the transformations started in the republic, to prevent the work of the president’s team, aimed at economic reforms and fight against organized crime", the Head of State believes.


"Perhaps, this way these people are trying to destabilize the intra-social situation in Abkhazia. Consciously or not, but in doing so, they perform a political order of our opponents, the country that Abkhazia is in a state of war with," said the President of the Republic.


Sergei Bagapsh stressed that the authorities can not be intimidated, and they will not desist from path of reforms and development. "The government's policy will not change, and such kind of “pressure" will not "force the government of the Republic to walk away from the chosen path," said the President of Abkhazia.


07.09.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Georgia to disrupt negotiating process - MFA


Sukhum, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia sent a note to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Jean Arnault and the Friends of the UN Secretary-General about the actions of the Georgian, which are threatening the negotiating process and security in the region.


Abkhazia is concerned with the capture of the Turkish vessel that was carrying a cargo of coal from the port of Ochamchira.


As the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia states, Georgia uses a mechanism of negotiating process as a cover for military and political provocations.


The Abkhaz FM calls on the international community to respond to the actions of Georgia, undercutting the negotiating process and violating stability in the region.


"In such circumstances, the lack of an adequate response from the mediators in the negotiation process may indirectly encourage aggression of Georgia, which could lead to a new conflict", said in the note of the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry.


Official Sukhum requests the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to help to release the Turkish ship and its crew members seized by the Georgian side.


07.09.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Heads of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to focus on situation in conflict zone at Moscow meeting


Moscow, The presidents of the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, will discuss the situation in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone at a meeting in Moscow on Monday.


The situation in the conflict zone remains tense. "The Georgian side is not stopping provocations aimed at aggravating the situation," Bagapsh said.


"Once again I am inviting the Georgian side to sit down at the negotiating table and to deal with the existing problems within the framework of earlier reached understandings," Kokoity said.


07.09.2007  Interfax


 "Kosovo disease" threatens international law


Moscow, by Piotr Romanov, International law, which has never been in good health, is on its deathbed once again, not long after almost succumbing to a grave illness provoked by Washington's Iraq war launched in stark disregard of the UN Charter.


The new disease is called Kosovo. Cristina Gallach, the spokesperson for Javier Solana, the European Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, said the EU would take matters into its own hands and make a decision on Kosovo if Russia continued to say "no."


"Russia has maintained its position, but Kosovo is a European problem," Gallach said in an interview published in the popular Serbian newspaper Vecerne Novosti Tuesday.


"The Balkans' future depends on Europe, not Russia. Therefore, the EU will make a decision if need be, but only with the UN Security Council's consent," Gallach said, according to RIA Novosti.


Russia threatened to veto a UN Security Council resolution that would effectively set the Serbian province, which has a majority ethnic Albanian population, on the path to sovereignty.


Since Russia's right of veto cannot be revoked according to the UN Charter, and the stance of Moscow and Belgrade on the Kosovo problem is firm, Gallach's words can only mean that the EU plans to ignore Russia's veto, the UN Charter, and the principle of the inviolability of borders which has guided the international community since World War II.


I don't know for sure if Ms. Gallach has adequately interpreted the position of her boss and the EU as a whole, but if she has, then the EU policy is misguided.


How long will the UN live if everyone starts violating its charter?


The EU has no regard for Serbia either, as it believes the Serbs are guilty of bringing forth Slobodan Milosevic and must therefore be made to pay for their blunder. (I wonder what would have become of Germany if the international community had assumed a similar stance regarding Germans for allowing Hitler to come to power?)


The advocates of sovereignty for Kosovo close their eyes to the fact that there are many similar hot spots in Europe. They believe that the policy of double standards is the only correct one, that Kosovo is unique, and no parallels can be drawn with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestr, breakaway republics in the former Soviet countries of Georgia and Moldova.


Ms. Gallach has not taken time to think that the people in those republics are no less deserving than Kosovo Albanians. Geography is the only thing she cares about. For her, Kosovo Albanians have a right to independence because Kosovo is adjacent to Western Europe, whereas Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnestr border on Russia and hence have no right to independence.


Milosevic's unwise policy provoked a never-ending exodus from the Balkans, with Albanians fleeing the wrath of Serbians and later coming back to slaughter them. Tentative estimates say 200,000 people have fled the province.


How many more will have to abandon their homes if the European bureaucrats get their way? There are 180,000 non-Albanians in Kosovo, all of them potential victims or refugees. Who will guarantee their security if Kosovo gains independence, especially since the province has already become Europe's "gray zone" controlled by criminals and drug barons?


Will the EU, which has failed to rid Kosovo of drugs, protect its women and children who are not Albanians or Muslims? Have we forgotten about the cowardice of the Dutch peacekeepers, whose "lack of initiative" helped set the stage for the mass killing in Srebrenica? None of them have been called to account.


Have European politicians ever thought about the "Kosovar identity," which can be interpreted as the dream of Kosovo's Albanian extremists to take over the adjacent European regions predominantly populated by Albanians? Have they noticed that this will concern the territorial integrity of Macedonia, Montenegro and northern Albania? So, Serbia is not the only country concerned here.


In other words, Kosovo is not ready for independence politically, economically, or in terms of security. Neither are Serbia, Russia, and Europe ready for it to be independent. The only ones who claim to be ready are irresponsible EU bureaucrats, Albanian nationalists, and the Bush administration. But Washington also claimed to be ready for the Iraq war, if I'm not mistaken.


The old order is crumbling before our very eyes. Russia has firmly upheld the territorial integrity of Georgia and Moldova, in line with international law and even though its relations with these states are far from ideal. What should it do now, support separatist tendencies on its border? Or withdraw from the UN?


This reminds me of the demise of the League of Nations and of the run-up to World War II.


The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.


07.04.2007  RIA Novosti


 PACE Chief Begins South Caucasus Tour


The president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is scheduled to start today a tour to the South Caucasus.


Rene van der Linden said the main goal of his trip to Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan is to look at ways to settle the frozen conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.


He will first visit Armenia and Georgia, including a July 7 visit to South Ossetia. He then moves on to Azerbaijan for July 8-10.


07.04.2007  Itar-Tass