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Compiled by Lisa Tonakanyan
Thursday, June 16
I would give Abkhazia independence right now if only I could

Analyst on Caucasus issues Mamuka Areshidze in an interview with the newspaper Rezonansi has evaluated the current situation in Abkhazia. According to him, there is no cause for optimism.

“Georgian society got accustomed to the idea that Abkhazia will return to Georgia though it might take a while. From this point of view the Abkhazian issue is more complicated than South Ossetia. Today in Abkhazia the demographic situation is changing very rapidly. If this process continues the same way, after 10-15 years Abkhazians will not be an ethnic minority any more and there will be no Abkhazians on this territory. So, we have to take particular measures not for returning Abkhazia but for returning Abkhazians”, Areshidze said.

“If we want to get back Abkhazians, we must save them. It is impossible to return to Abkhazia if we leave it in the same conditions as it is now. Russia is changing the demographic situation in Abkhazia. A good example demonstrating this is a military contract between Russia and Abkhazia. According to the document, every military person who serves in the military unit in Abkhazia gets land or a flat. So, the Russian military units are filled up with officers who have no flats. There are people coming to Abkhazia for this reason even from Vladivostok”, Areshidze emphasised.

“This means that Abkhazia in 2 years will get a huge number of Russian citizens... I do not say that we must give them direct independence and finish it. In this context we must lay down our conditions. For instance, returning the refugees. Laying down conditions is already a topic for negotiations. In case of Abkhazia’s recognition we get a direct right to carry on negotiations. During the talks many things will become clear for us. This will be the only means to talk to Abkhazians using the help of the international community without Russians”, Areshidze noted.

“I am ready to come in for criticism in case the format of direct Georgian-Abkhazian negotiations starts on the ground of recognising the independence of Abkhazia. I do not want anyone to think that I agree to the recognition of Abkhazia’s independence and that I consider it is a political step and nothing more. I think there should be certain conditions laid down in the context of recognition. First of all, it is refugees’ return. Thus, I would like to emphasize one more time that first what we need to do is to create a format for negotiations based on the topic of recognition of Abkhazia’s independence and then to determine the conditions”, Areshidze said.

Kokoity Not Allowed to Run for Third Term for President

The Supreme Court of so called South Ossetia did not support the referendum to enable Kokoity to run for president for the third time, 24 Hours reports.

According to the referendum, the population had to decide whether the president had a right to a third term. The questions offered to the population would be: “Do you agree that the same person can run for a third term as President?”

The Deputy Defense Minister of so called South Ossetia Ibragim Gaseev was against holding referendum. He considers that Kokoity’s political course “must continue”.

Kokoity refused to run for presidency, though he was not against the referendum.

Presidential elections must take place in so called South Ossetia in the autumn of 2011.