ROAR: Abkhazia, South Ossetia to ignore EU’s “virtual position”

The presidents of the two republics are visiting the states that recognized them as the EU reiterates its support for Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Abkhazian and South Ossetian leaders Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity are negotiating with the leadership of Nicaragua, one of the four nations to recognize the two former Georgian republics as independent states.

The Abkhaz President said the visit of the republic’s delegation was taking place according to a schedule approved in advance. Kokoity arrived with delay due to problems with his plane. His Falcon-type airplane made an emergency landing due to a technical failure at Vantaa Airport in Helsinki on July 18.

Kokoity and Bagapsh will also visit Venezuela. Both leaders recently received credentials from Nicaraguan and Venezuelan ambassadors. Kokoity believes that the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassador level will enable better use of the potential for cooperation of “the countries that share common approaches to many key issues.” He also described the recognition of South Ossetia by Venezuela and Nicaragua as “an act of historic significance.”

Following the conflict in the North Caucasus, Nicaragua recognized the independence of the republics of South Ossetia and Abkahzia on September 3, 2008. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during his trip to Moscow on September 10, 2009 also announced that his country recognized the two republics.

Both Bagapsh and Kokoity are attending celebrations on July 19 marking the 31st anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. They will meet with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and sign a host of bilateral agreements on trade, economic cooperation and visa-free travel. They will also sign agreements with the Venezuelan leader.

“The history of Abkhazia resembles that of the people of Nicaragua,” Bagapsh said on July 18, adding that his country’s delegation was paying the visit at the invitation of Ortega. He thanked Russia and other countries that have recognized the independence of the former Georgian republic.

Bagapsh reiterated recently that Abkhazia will “never return to Georgia,” but added that good-neighbor relations between the two countries should be developed. He also stressed that Russia helps Abkhazia because Moscow is interested in “stability in the South and North Caucasus.”

As Abkhazia and South Ossetia are developing relations with South American countries, Tbilisi is strengthening ties with the European Union. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, who visited Georgia last week, advised Tbilisi to resume dialogue with Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s population.

However, Ashton stressed that the EU supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and welcomes the position of its authorities “to resolve the problems peacefully and diplomatically.” Bagapsh is accusing Tbilisi of aggressive plans and unwillingness to sign a peaceful pact.

The EU is launching negotiations on Georgia’s associated membership to the EU, which will replace the agreement on cooperation and partnership.

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also noted that the European Union monitoring mission is an important factor for ensuring stability in the region. She traveled to the Georgian-Ossetian border and was briefed by EU monitors on the border situation where incidents are not rare.

On July 19, a group of Georgian citizens was detained for trying to cross the South Ossetian border, Interfax reported, citing the South Ossetian State Security Committee. They reportedly tried to drive from South Ossetia to the Georgian Kareli district in evasion of
border checkpoints.

The group was detained near Lopan in the Znauri district by a patrol of Russian border guards. Russian servicemen were stationed in South Ossetia according to the agreement on joint protection of the South Ossetian-Georgian border and the South Ossetian border law.

Meanwhile, politicians in South Ossetia commented on Ashton’s statements about Georgia’s territorial integrity. Gennady Kokoev, a deputy of the South Ossetian parliament, noted the republic’s leadership and population “should ignore” her words.

She said “nothing new about the EU’s position towards the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” he noted. “This is their principal position and they are unlikely to change it in the near future,” he was quoted by South Ossetian Res news agency as saying.

“However, it is also clear that this is the continuation of a policy that does not recognize the existing realities,” the deputy noted, adding that “these realities existed even before Russia recognized South Ossetia.”

The EU’s position is “simply virtual, ungrounded and amazing,” Kokoev said. This position supports “the aggressive side” in the conflict and does not bring any new element to the existing balance of forces,” he said.

Alan Pliev, Deputy Foreign Minister of South Ossetia, also noted that the two former Georgian republics have actually been independent for almost twenty years. Now for full-fledged development they only need Russia’s recognition, he stressed.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT