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Russian Duma ratifies Friendship and Cooperation Treaties

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, October 30
The Russian Duma has ratified the country’s Treaties on Friendship and Cooperation with the de facto Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The key issue covered by these documents, drafted on the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, is military cooperation between Russia and the breakaway ‘states.’ According to the document, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region, the sides will “ensure mutual assistance, including military assistance.” Another important issue is that the documents give Russia the right to build and use military bases on the territories of de facto Republics. The sides also agree not to join any bloc or union against each other, or take any actions that would contradict the interests of the signatories of these treaties.

The Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation with de facto Abkahzia envisages adopting a future agreement on assistance in controlling the Abkhazian borders. “The sides confirm and respect the territorial and border integrity of the Russian Federation and Abkhazia,” the document reads. Under the terms of the treaties it will also be possible for citizens of one of the three signatory ‘countries’ to obtain citizenship of another. The treaties also envisage cultural and economic partnership between the signatories.

Russian officials assess the ratification of the treaties as a “logical step”. According to Andrey Kelin, the Director of the CIS Countries Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the ratifying of the Treaties on Friendship and Cooperation follows logically from recognizing the de facto Republics and establishing diplomatic relations with them. The Georgian side however has called the whole recognition and ratification process a “dirty and senseless game,” and a “violation of International norms.” MP of the Ruling National Movement Party Petre Mamradze has told journalists that the Russians are trying to pretend that new states have been established, and that Russia is supporting them by defending their rights and security. “In fact the people of those regions have an anti-Russian mood,” Mamradze said.

President Medvedev signed the Friendship and Cooperation Treaties on September 17, when the leaders of Georgia’s breakaway regions visited Moscow. According to Russian MPs the ratification of the Treaties will be followed by the signing of further mutual agreements on different issues. Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin has told MPs that 3,800 troops will be permanently deployed in each of the de facto Republics under the terms of the now-ratified Treaties.