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6 Mar, 2008 11:26

Russia says no more sanctions on Abkhazia

Russia's Foreign Ministry has lifted all sanctions against Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia.

The Ministry also sent an official note to other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, encouraging them to do the same.

Economic, travel and transport restrictions were imposed in 1996 as means of regulating the conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia.

According to the restrictions, all CIS countries were banned from trading in arms with the breakaway republic, and citizens living in the areas controlled by Abkhazian government were forbidden to join the army of any member of the CIS.
“The decision was taken in 1996 amid a serious conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia, following the bloody war of 1992–1993. The decision aimed to make Abkhazia’s stance more flexible on return of refugees’ and displaced people.

Today, the situation has changed drastically. The majority of refugees of Georgian origin have returned to the Gal Region of Abkhazia. However, further development of this process is blocked by Georgia’s reluctance to register them in accordance with the scheme proposed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

As for participation in the conflict-regulating process, Abkhazia has met all its obligations specified in the main agreements in this area. It’s ready for practical steps to strengthen trust and increase security in the conflict zone. With that in mind, the Georgian side doesn’t show a similarly constructive approach to executing the agreements previously reached,” Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Boris Malakhov, said.    

And Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister, Andrey Denisov, said the move should be considered as a humanitarian act aimed to improve the quality of life of ordinary Abkhazians. It is not an answer to Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, which Russia opposed. Russia doesn’t have the intention to question Georgia’s territorial integrity.