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Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not join Russia

By Temuri Kiguradze
Friday, September 12
The de facto Presidents of Georgia’s breakaway regions announced on September 11 that they would not join the Russian Federation.

Abkhazian separatist leader Sergey Bagapsh, quoted by Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, said that Abkhazia would remain an “independent” country and didn’t plan to become part of Russia. “The people of the Republic made their choice in the referendum and voted for independence,” stated Bagapsh. De facto leader of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity said that his previous statements about the desire of South Ossetia to be united with the Russian Province North Ossetia were “wrongly understood.” Interviewed by news agency Interfax, he said that South Ossetia will remain independent of Russia.

Russia recognized the independence of these two territories on August 26, after deadly clashes between Georgian, Ossetian and Russian troops in South Ossetia. Despite the appeal of Russia to the international community, including UN and EU, hardly any country has supported this decision. Tbilisi has accused Moscow of occupying its territory and broken off diplomatic relations with Russia.

Georgian State Minister on Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili refused to comment on the statements of the separatist leaders. Independent Georgian political analyst Gia Khukhashvili however says that, “Their [Bagapsh and Kokoity’s] tactic is dictated by Russia,” Speaking to The Messenger, Khukhashvili said that these kind of statements by the separatists were “logical and expected,” because Russia is trying to rescue its image in the eyes of the international community and escape the accusations of the occupation and annexation of Georgian territory.

“In reality these provinces never were and never will be independent of Russia,” says the analyst. He also thinks that despite their formal refusal to join Russia, the breakaway regions will try to enter a Russia-Belarus union, or the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS). “It seems that Russia wants to build a new USSR-like union of satellite countries,” stated Khukhashvili. The aspiration of Abkhazia to join the CIS and the Russia-Belarus union was voiced by Bagapsh at the September 11 press conference.

Belarus has been named by the Russian Foreign Ministry as one of five countries which are going to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Belarusian President Lukashenko has promised to discuss this possibility after September 28. Apart from Belarus, Russian newspaper Kommersant, quoting “an official in the Russian Foreign Ministry,” named Libya, Jordan, Syria and Morocco as the other countries who would recognize the Georgian separatist regions, following the example of Russia and Nicaragua.