Breakaway republics to ask EU, UN for independence

The breakaway republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniester have pledged to deal with any military threat jointly and have accused Georgia of trying to discredit Russian peacekeepers and inflame tensions in the republics' conflict zones.

The joint statement came at a two-day summit of the three unrecognised states that opened on Sunday in the Abkhazian capital Sukhumi.

During the meeting, the leaders of the breakaway regions signed their commonwealth's fundamental agreement and charter as well as a number of cooperation documents.

Later they are also expected to sign an appeal to the European Union and the United Nations to recognise their independence.

This commonwealth of self-proclaimed states was formed in June last year calling for democracy, and peoples’ rights. Besides sharing common political goals, members of the commonwealth co-operate over the economy, culture and education.

“The most important thing for us today is that we are strengthening the legal framework of our alliance for democracy and peoples’ rights. I am satisfied with the meeting’s results. Its task was to create conditions for the further prosperity of our republics and the earliest recognition of their independence,” South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity stated.

In the early 1990s, the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from the rest of Georgia. Tbilisi sent  troops to these areas, which sparked violent conflicts. Thousands of people died. More than three hundred thousand Georgians fled the breakaway republics before CIS peacekeepers from the former Soviet republics managed to halt the violence.

They're still stationed at the borders for the safety of the population. Georgia has been repeatedly calling for the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers. But since their mission is sanctioned by the UN Security Council and an agreement with the CIS, the troops remain.

“The Republic of Abkhazia stands firm: we are categorically against the idea that the Russian peacekeepers should leave the conflict zone. Everybody must realize that their departure will inevitably lead to a new conflict,” Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh said.

Transdniester is a self-proclaimed republic that split from Moldova in the early 1990s. Two thirds of its population are ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. In the summer of 1992, more than a thousand people died in clashes between Moldovan troops and the Transdniester militia.

“We will defend our right to live on our land, a right to our language and our culture just as our ancestors did. We will be friends with great Russia and will develop together with it. This is what the people of the Dniester Republic said at the referendum on December 17, 2006,” the President of the republic Igor Smirnov stated.

Earlier this week, CIS peacekeepers clashed with a group of Georgian policemen near a village in the demilitarized zone. According to Abkhazia, Georgia is increasing its military presence in the area. This violates the 1992 ceasefire agreements. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who visited the area in person, blamed the CIS peacekeepers for the incident.