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Putin meets with de-facto Abkhazian leader

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, March 14
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with the de-facto leader of breakaway Abkhazia, Aleksander Ankvab, at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on March 12. The sides discussed the progress made in their relations and future plans.

Putin underscored that relations between Russia and Abkhazia are developing better than they were previously.

Ankvab expressed gratitude towards Putin and emphasized that Sokhumi is getting ready for celebrating 5 years of independence.

“Your assistance is very important for our development,” Ankvab stated, adding that the broad range of issues that will foster improvement of the existing conditions in Abkhazia have also been discussed.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, commented on the meeting stating that the meeting between the Russian leadership and de-facto representatives will not help the relations between Georgia and Russia.

“This type of meeting damages the prospects for improving relations between Georgia and Russia. Georgia will never reconcile the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence. Our policies are aimed at the de-occupation of the two regions,” Panjikidze said.

Political analyst Malkhaz Chemia told The Messenger that Russia will not change its position towards the de-facto regions.

“Through the occupied regions, Russia has levers that enable it to have influence on Georgia and have better control of the S. Caucasus,” Chemia said, adding that Georgia should carry out diplomatic actions with Russia.

“Russia knows that Georgia will not return to their sphere of influence and with their small” gifts”, Russia will try to lengthen the path to European integration for Georgia,” Chemia stated.

The analyst underscored that Georgia should act based on its own interests, try to balance the politics towards the big political players and get more profit from the situation.

Chemia also underscored that Georgia should always state that the regions are occupied. However, the statements should not be so critical to close the doors of negotiations between Georgia and Russia.

“The statements of the government should be collaborative and diplomatic,” Chemia stated. The analyst stressed that restoration of public and economic relations with the de-facto regions will play a serious role in solving political problems.