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PACE and Nicaraguan delegations visit Abkhazia

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, April 16
The delegation of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) is visiting Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia. The PACE officials, led by Matyas Eorsi, have already met Ruslan Kishmaria, the so-called Trustee of the de facto Abkhazian leader in the Gali region.

The aim of PACE Monitoring Committee to Abkhazia is to learn the position of the Abkhazian side in order to take this position into account in its report about Georgian-Russian conflict of August 2008, Eorsi said. As part of the visit the delegation is due to meet de facto Abkhazian leader Sergey Baghapsh and so-called Prime Minister Sergey Shamba, de facto Foreign Minister Maxim Ghvinjia and de facto Ombudsman Giorgi Otirba.

The de facto Abkhazian authorities told PACE representatives that “for Abkhazia any initiative from the Georgian side about building so-called peace is unacceptable.” “Abkhazia is an independent state. Nothing will make us renounce our independence. You should accept us the way we are,” de facto Abkhazian Parliament Speaker Nugzar Ashuba said. According to the Abkhazian media Ashuba expressed discontent that Abkhazian “citizens” are unable to travel to European states because their Embassies refuse to give them visas. “Citizens of Abkhazia are unable to study at European universities because they have no right to enter EU states. We, like any other nation, want to be part of the international community,” the de facto Parliament Speaker added. Ashuba also expressed his doubts about the objectivity of the PACE Monitoring Mission report, as it is “already called a Report on the Results of the Russian-Georgian War.”

The head of the Temporary Parliamentary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues, National Movement MP Shota Malashkhia, downplayed the claims of the de facto authorities. He said that any person, ethnic Abkhaz or Ossetian, can easily get a Georgian passport and visit any European state. “We have special quotas for Abkhazian and Ossetian students at Georgian universities and special quotas for those willing to study abroad. This is envisaged in the new Strategy on Georgia’s Occupied Territories,” Malashkhia told The Messenger. “We do not want to isolate the people living on the occupied territories,” the MP added.

As for the allegations of the de facto officials that the PACE report could be “biased”, Malashkhia said that Russia has admitted itself that the war in August 2008 was a Russian-Georgian conflict. “The Russian side admitted this by signing the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement. So I would advise the puppet regime leaders to consult with The Kremlin before making such statements,” he said.

A delegation of Nicaragua is also paying a three-day visit to the de facto Abkhazian Republic, RIA Novosti has reported. The visit comes a day after the Nicaraguan delegation head, Foreign Minister Samuel Santos Lopez, signed an agreement with de facto South Ossetia on establishing diplomatic ties. The agenda of the Nicaraguan delegation includes meetings with de facto Abkhazian President Sergey Baghapsh and meetings at the de facto Foreign Ministry.

MP Malashkhia criticised the Nicaraguan authorities, calling them the “friends of Russia.” “This state is governed by an odious leader. Nicaragua recognises this region, where an ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population took place, as an independent state,” he said, adding that Georgian officials will raise this issue at “all international forums” and call on the international community to take sanctions against the states which have recognised Georgia’s breakaway regions as independent.

The head of the legitimate Abkhazian Government-in-Exile Besik Silagadze also said that sanctions will be taken against Nicaragua as a result of its actions. However, he noted that the legitimate Abkhazian Government-in-Exile will initiate these while the Georgian Foreign Ministry will implement them. “We will of course work in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Silagadze told The Messenger.