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

 Abkhazia may render aid to S. Ossetia in protecting its security - Bagapsh


Sukhum, Abkhazia has warned Georgia that it might render military assistance to South Ossetia if the situation in the conflict area continues to worsen, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh told Interfax Saturday.


"We have held a session of the Abkhaz Security Council, at which the escalation of the conflict in South Ossetia was discussed," Bagapsh said.


"We have made a statement warning Georgia and those backing it on the unacceptability of the further complication of the situation surrounding South Ossetia," he said.


06.30.2007  Interfax


Statement by the Chairman High-level meeting of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General


From 27 to 28 June 2007, senior representatives of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General met in Bonn under the chairmanship of the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping.  Representatives of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General participated in the meeting.


This meeting was convened out of concern over tensions in the zone of conflict, the absence of dialogue between the sides and the need to promote the set of confidence building measures presented to the sides at the last Geneva meeting, which were subsequently endorsed by the Security Council. >>>>


 Abkhazia FM hails meeting of Group of Friends on Georgia


Sukhum, Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba on Friday hailed the results of a meeting of the U.N. Secretary General’s Group of Friends on Georgia in Bonn on June 27 to 28, where “the main claims and criticism were addressed to the Georgian side”.


“The main claims and criticism of the Group of Friends were addressed to the Georgian side and they were rather tough,” the foreign minister of Abkhazia told Tass by telephone from Bonn.


According to Shamba, the Group has demanded from Tbilisi to immediately stop an expansion “of the area of presence of Georgian police in the lower part of the Kodor gorge and launch an investigation into that fact”.


Shamba said Sukhum had given consent to the renewal of weekly four-party meetings in the Gal region with participation of the Georgian and Abkhazian sides, as well as a collective peacekeeping force in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict and the U.N. observer mission in Georgia”.


“We believe this is the mechanism that could ensure a certain level of security,” he stated.


The foreign minister reported that on the results of the meeting in Bonn, the chairman of the Group of Friends, Jean Marie Guehenno, circulated a statement, which stressed that seeing security and peace as priority, the group expressed concern over reports on the presence of unidentified armed persons in the lower part of the Kodor gorge and urged the sides to look into and settle that issue.


06.29.2007  Itar-Tass


 Peoples of un-recognized republics strive for independence


Sukhum, The international community cannot ignore the existence in the post-Soviet expanse of free states, the will of their peoples for independence and their striving for democratic values. This is said in the statement the Council of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of member-states of the Community for Democracy and Human Rights adopted at its fourth meeting in Sukhum on Tuesday. The heads of parliaments of the republics of Abkhazia, Dniester and South Ossetia, as well as the Inter-parliamentary Assembly, participated in the meeting.


“The very existence in the post-Soviet expanse of free states with almost a millioned population cannot be ignored, just as it is impossible to ignore people’s will for independence, freedom and democratic values,” the final document says. “One of the main tasks of the Community and of its activity is to bring this will to the notice of the international community,” the participants in the meeting hold.


Representatives of the supreme legislative bodies of Abkhazia, Dniester region and South Ossetia commended Russia’s most important role as the guarantor of the peace process in the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian, Georgian-South Ossetian and Moldovan-Dniester conflicts, as the guarantor of peace and security in the Caucasus-Black Sea region.


The Inter-parliamentary Assembly regards as the essence of its activity “juridical substantiation of the right to international recognition of the states of the Community, the development of democracy and harmonizing legislation.” In the economic area, the Assembly “is doing its utmost to create favourable conditions for the development of enterprise, economic activity and trade on the territories of these republics, for ecological safety and common guarantees of citizens’ rights.”


06.26.2007  Itar-Tass


 CIS peacekeeping force in Abkhazia marks 13th anniversary


Sukhum, Republic of Abkhazia marks the 13th anniversary of the CIS peacekeeping force (PKF) in Abkhazia.


Abkhazian president Sergei Bagapsh, government officials, parliamentarians from the State Duma lower house of Russian parliament, representatives from the U.N. mission in Georgia as well as the peacekeeping force command paid tribute to the memory of peacekeepers killed in the zone of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict by laying flowers to a monument to peacekeepers.


“In its 13-year history, the PKF has not allowed an open armed confrontation between the conflicting sides. Moreover, peacekeepers are trying to contribute in any way to a peaceful and constructive dialogue, as they are sure that all problems and disputes must be solved solely diplomatically, at the negotiating table and not at a battlefield,” the commander of the CIS PKF stressed.


According to Major General Sergei Chaban, “all reproaches to the peacekeeping mission that can be heard sometimes are nothing more than the voice of certain interested persons, and they have nothing to do with the opinion of the Abkhazian and Georgian people, who see Russian peacekeepers as reliable support and guard in different affairs”.


The chief of the Russian Army General Staff, General Yuri Baluyevsky, has sent a message of greeting to Russian peacekeepers. He said “the fact that there have been no combat operations in the conflict zone for the past 13 years is the main result of the PKF activity. Russian peacekeepers have paid a dear price for it, as over 100 peacekeepers have been killed while performing their duty,” he stressed.


“No statements by short-sighted politicians with a demand to withdraw peacekeeping contingents, as well as change the format of the operation, must not shake resolution of PKF servicemen and their readiness to perform the set tasks,” the general emphasized.


“Russia will keep following the earlier reached agreements and will not let destabilize the situation in the region,” Baluyevsky stressed.


06.23.2007  Itar-Tass


 Breakaway republics form united stand on settling conflicts


Chisina, The foreign ministries of the Dniester republic, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh – signed the Declaration on principles of a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts in the territories of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Its text was circulated on Sunday by the Foreign Ministry of the Dniester republic.


The document runs that conflicts should be settled only by peaceful political means on the basis of respect for positions of all the sides of a conflict and unconditional recognition of the right of peoples to self-determination. It precludes the use of any forms of pressure at negotiations, including military, information, economic, diplomatic and other measures.


Its authors called for respecting the will of the peoples of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, the Dniester republic and South Ossetia, which mapped out their way of development during supreme manifestations of direct diplomacy – nation-wide referendums.


They also agreed to set up guarantee systems of a post-conflict settlement, including outside, internationally-legal and economic guarantees, as well as guarantees of security of peoples and observance of human rights as well as to ensure clear-cut and unconditional implementation by the sides in conflicts of assumed obligations.


The conclusive part of the document expresses conviction that “respect of these principles by all subjects of the international community, including Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, will create adequate prerequisites for the earliest and just settlement of conflicts and will be a common contribution to strengthening of international stability and protection of human rights”.


Following the signing of the document, Dniester Foreign Minister Valery Litskai noted that while the Kosovo problem would be discussed at the UN, the CIS breakaway states would draft one more joint statement which would be forwarded to the UN Security Council.


He expressed opinion that an inevitable gain by Kosovo of independence would create a precedent for self-proclaimed post-Soviet republics which look much more preferable, taking into account maturity of their state institutions.


“We are 17 years old, while Kosovo is only seven. Kosovars are far from international democratic standards so far. They are still to hold elections and to form political institutions,” Litskai noted.


06.17.2007  Itar-Tass


 Nagorno-Karabakh joins Transdniester, Abkhazia and S.Ossetia in call for peace


Tiraspol, Four unrecognized countries have taken a united stand on settling conflicts without the use of violence. Transdniester, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh signed a joint appeal for peaceful settlement on conflicts involving their territories. An earlier appeal to the United Nations did not include Nagorno-Karabakh.


The foreign ministries of four unrecognized countries – the Transdniester Republic, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh – signed the a joint declaration on principles for peaceful and just settlement of their territorial conflicts with Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively.


Its text was circulated on Sunday by the Foreign Ministry of Transdniester (officially Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica, or PMR, but also known under names such as Transnistria or Trans-Dnestr).


Key to the document is the appeal that conflicts should be settled only by peaceful political means on the basis of respect for the views of all the sides of a conflict, taking into account the right of peoples to self-determination.


It condemns the use of any forms of pressure at negotiations, be it open violence - such as military action - or covert violence, including dis-information wars, economic blockades and sanctions, diplomatic isolation and other measures which result in unfair pressure on the weaker side of the negotiations.


Message to Moldova: Respect int'l law


In addition to their appeal for non-violence and a democratic status settlement, the four foreign ministers agreed to set up international guarantee systems of a post-conflict settlement. Such international involvement would include outside guarantees of the observance of international law and economic guarantees, as well as guarantees of their peoples' security and observance of human rights by all sides to the conflicts.


The document concludes by expressing the conviction that “respect of these principles by all subjects of the international community, including Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, will create adequate prerequisites for the earliest and just settlement of conflicts and will be a common contribution to strengthening of international stability and protection of human rights”.


Following the signing of the document, Transdniester Foreign Minister Valeri Litskai said that eventual independence of Kosovo would create a precedent for his own country, taking into account the maturity of Transdniester's statehood and its government institutions.


“- We are 17 years old, while Kosovo is only seven. Kosovars are a long way from international democratic standards so far,” said PMR's Valeri Litskai.


The other three signatories to the document are also older than Kosovo, being each 15 or 16 years old. Of the four, Pridnestrovie (Transdniester) was the first to declare independence: It did so in 1990, one year before the Republic of Moldova became an independent country. Although Transdniester was legally a part of the former Moldavian SSR within the Soviet Union, Transdniester has never legally been a part of the new Republic of Moldova following the fall of the Soviet Union.


Newcomer: Nagorno-Karabakh


The signature of Nagorno-Karabakh on the declaration is a departure from recent policy.


Nagorno-Karabakh differs from other "frozen conflicts" in the ex-Soviet Union in that it has repeatedly received funding from the United States Congress. Throughout the 1990s, NKR's independence leaders collaborated with other unrecognized countries, but at the advice of American consultants they withdrew their close ties. Washington felt that it was not beneficial for NKR to be lumped with Abkhazia and Pridnestrovie (Transdniester) and the "handlers" held out the promise of quick international independence recognition if Nagorno-Karabakh would seek its own way.


No such promise materialized and Nagorno-Karabakh is now again inching closer to the other unrecognized countries in the region.


Discussions are underway for Nagorno-Karabakh to join the Community for Democracy and Human Rights, an international governmental organization founded by the three other unrecognized countries on the post-Soviet space. NKR currently participates with observer sates, but the Secretary-General of the group's Interparliamentary Assembly says that this is likely to change.


“- The full membership of the Parliament of Nagorno Karabakh in the Assembly as well as the membership of other partially recognized states is under discussion," said Grigory Marakutsa, an ethnic Moldovan from Pridnestrovie (Transdniester) who was formerly Speaker of the PMR Parliament. (With information from Itar-Tass)


06.17.2007  Tiraspol Times


 Business delegation from Singapore to study economic potential of Abkhazia - MFA


Sukhum, Business delegation from Singapore arrived in Abkhazia. The main purpose of the visit is familiarization with the economic potential of Abkhazia and discussion of the prospects for Singaporean investment in the economy.


"This will be not only about investments. Our partners from Singapore are not ready to invest without appropriate conditions and guarantees. Therefore, it would be about how to create such conditions and guarantees. And these are issues related to the reform legislation as well," said Deputy Foreign Minister Maxim Gunjia.


On June 15 the delegation will meet with the President, the government, as well as representatives of the Abkhaz business. Heads of several major Singaporean companies are among the members of the delegation.


06.13.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 From 1. July new rates of customs duties on import alcohol to come into operation - Cabinet of Ministers


Sukhum, From 1 July there will be an increase in customs duties on import alcohol. Prime Minister Alexander Ankuab signed a decision.


The cost of an excise tax on unit will be as follows: wine- 30 cents (were 3), vodka and other strong drinks- 60 cents (were 30).


The government intends to tighten control over the flow of alcohol into the country.


06.12.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 In the new season tourists to be served only by certified service facilities - Government


Sukhum, Government structures completed monitoring of service objects in the tourist centers of Abkhazia.


According to the received information, up to 70% of nutrition objects in tourist centers such as Lake Ritsa Novi Afon do not comply with the requirements.


During a visit to Gagra the Prime Minister Alexander Ankuab said that in the new season tourists will be served only by certified service facilities.


The owners of nutrition objects still have time to bring the quality of their work in compliance with the standards. In turn, owners of many of them argue that the main reason for the low quality of service is the lack of funds necessary for the repair and modernization.


Mayor of Gagra Astamur Ketsba expects that in the season of 2007 the number of tourists who will spend holidays in Gagra and Pitsunda will increase substantially compared to last year.


06.12.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Civilized dialogue to be the key point to settlement of the conflict - President


Sukhum, Head of State Sergei Bagapsh met a special representative of the European Union on South Caucasus Peter Semneby.


The EU is expected to represent to the official Sukhum a programme of EU activity and projects in Abkhazia. As P. Semneby noted, the plan involves mikrocommercial projects, supporting the development of civil society and other projects.


President Sergei Bagapsh thanked the EU for its assistance and reiterated the readiness of the Abkhaz side for a dialogue to resolve the conflict with Georgia.


"Civilized dialogue is the key point to the settlement of the conflict. We hope for understanding from the Georgian side and its readiness to establish normal, civilized relations. We will continue to insist on concrete solutions to specific issues. Stable and effective relations between our countries depend on such decisions as the agreement on non-resumption of hostilities and the lifting of the embargo", said Sergei Bagapsh.


At the same time the President of Abkhazia noted that the Abkhaz side is concerned with the military rhetoric of the Georgian authorities. "It is difficult to talk about peace with a country that refuses to sign a treaty on the non-renewal of hostilities," stressed Bagapsh.


In turn, the EU special representative on South Caucasus Peter Semneby reiterated that the international community will exert every effort to resolve the conflict only by peaceful means.


06.11.2007  abkhaziagov.org


 Russia not building new bases in Abkhazia - ministry


Moscow/Tbilisi, Spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Col. Vyacheslav Sedov has denied Georgian claims that Russia plans to begin construction of a new military base in Abkhazia.


"Russia is not building any new military bases on Abkhaz territory. People who obviously do not want to see normalization of Russian-Georgian relations likely came up with those statements," Sedov told Interfax-AVN on Monday. "In fact, Russia is fully complying with the obligations contained in the Istanbul agreements to withdraw its bases from Georgia," he said.


"The withdrawal schedule has been coordinated with Georgia, and we are fully complying with it," the colonel said.


06.11.2007  Interfax-AVN


 Abkhazia: Kosova’s Independence Will Help


In a joint statement, the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have declared that the independence of Kosova should help them get international recognition.


The leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia appealed to the United Nations on Monday [4 June 2007] to put them in line for international recognition after Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.


Abkhazia's Sergei Bagapsh and South Ossetia's Eduard Kokoity also said they hoped for stronger support from Russia now that it finds itself increasingly at odds with the West.


"If Kosovo is separated from Serbia and its independence is recognized, one more powerful proof will emerge that ethnic conflicts can be solved on principles other than a respect for territorial integrity," they said in a statement released after a regular meeting in Moscow. "Abkhazia and South Ossetia have just as strong grounds to demand independence as Kosovo."


06.05.2007  The Moscow Times


 Talks on Georgia-Abkhazia settlement suspended – Bagapsh


Moscow, Abkhazian president Sergei Bagapsh said it is the first time in 12 years the talks on the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict were suspended.


Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the Abkhazian leader said, “After Georgia captured our citizens in the Gal district of Abkhazia and make regular attempts to provoke us to use force against Georgia’s young people from the youth camp on the border in the Zurdidi district, we fully interrupted the talks with the Georgian side.”


“Recently we have released detained Georgian students and sent them to their parents. Thus, Abkhazia made a goodwill gesture and hoped that the Georgian leadership took return steps. But unfortunately, we saw the Georgian leadership to take new steps towards destabilising the situation. That is why Sukhum will not make any more compromises with Tbilisi,” Bagapsh stressed.


He also said Georgia consciously sought to aggravate the situation on the eve of the vacation season in Abkhazia in order to wreck it. “But we do not admit it. This year Abkhazia expects the vacation season to be better than last year.”


Bagapsh said all vouchers to Abkhazian health resorts had been already bought before September. In 2006 Abkhazia accepted over one million vacationers.


06.04.2007  Itar-Tass


 Leaders of Abkhazia, S Ossetia sign statement on Kosovo


Moscow, Leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia signed a joint statement on Kosovo on Monday.


In their statement Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity said their republics have more reasons than Kosovo for raising the question of self-determination.


Speaking at a press conference, Kokoity said, “We signed the statement, which is addressed to the U.N. secretary-general, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe and heads of other international organisations in order to represent Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s position on the recognition of Kosovo’s independence.”


“If independence of Kosovo is recognised, this will give us more rights to be recognised sovereign republics,” Kokoity stressed. In his words, Sukhum and Tskhinvali “have more rights than Kosovo to be recognised independent.”


Bagapsh said, “If Kosovo is recognised independent or not, this will step up the process of recognising independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”


06.04.2007  Itar-Tass