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14 Sep, 2008 19:28

Abkhazia says No to OSCE and EU monitors

Only Russian monitors will be allowed into the newly independent republic of Abkhazia, according to President Sergey Bagapsh. OSCE and EU officials are expected to monitor the security zone on the border with Georgia.

Eight thousand Russian troops are to be deployed in Abkhazia to maintain security.

Bagapsh made the statements in a conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was making his first official visit to Abkhazia. To watch the conference, please click here.

Lavrov pledged Russia's commitment to developing Abkhazia, and securing recognition of its independence by other countries. Besides Russia, Nicaragua is the only country to fully recognise the republic's independence. Belarus and Venezuela have indicated they may recognise it in the near future.

The Russian Foreign Minister outlined plans for co-operation with South Ossetia saying, “We shall sign specific agreements relating to various areas, as is fitting for two countries who are allies. These will cover defence and security, customs and borders, free trade and tax policies, currency and banking systems. This is in line with the assistance the Russian Federation is giving Abkhazia to become a fully independent state.”

The plane carrying Lavrov and a group of journalists was the first civil aircraft to land in the Abkhazian capital for more than a decade. Lavrov said that he can personally attest that the airport is in perfect condition and ready to receive international passengers.

Lavrov is expected to visit the South Ossetian capital Tshkinval shortly to meet with President Eduard Kokoity.