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New EU strategy towards Abkhazia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 16
The EU launched a new programme for Abkhazia – inclusion without recognition. This latest initiative offers humanitarian assistance without requiring any solution of the political issues. However the Georgian government is not yet prepared to respond to the initiative, while analysts have various controversial opinions. Some welcome the initiative, which to date is only an idea, while others believe it is completely unacceptable for Georgia. A third group adopts a more common sense approach, suggesting that the initiative is examined before any opinion is given.

EU considers Abkhazia an integral part of Georgia, so according to this standpoint the EU should support a resolution which identifies these territories as occupied by Russia. However it is unlikely that the EU will put any significant pressure on Russia to withdraw from the territories. Under these circumstances some EU members decided that it was a good idea to start cooperation with Abkhazia, but only on humanitarian issues and any programmes should be implemented with Georgian consent but not under Georgian control. This EU strategy could partially harmonise with Georgia’s strategy of inclusion through cooperation, which means active cooperation between the sides before the political status of occupied territories is finally determined and regulated.

Of course this recent EU initiative has the serious involvement of Georgia in the issue, but humanitarian assistance does not need anybody’s consent. Some analysts think the initiative very important and according to Mamuka Areshidze the major idea behind this initiative is to remove Abkhazia from the Russian orbit. Maybe this is too optimistic and as we have mentioned, so far the ruling administration has not commented on the initiative.

Of course the implementation of this initiative will not rule out Russian activities in the occupied territories, so Moscow as well as Sokhumi welcomes the EU entry into Abkhazia bypassing Tbilisi. Indirectly this indicates yet another step towards recognition of the territory’s independence.

Some Georgian analysts think that one way or another Georgia will also be included, and at least the Abkhaz population will see the Georgian side as flexible and positive. But so far these are only speculations as currently there is no document detailing the project that would make it possible to discuss the pros and cons.