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Georgia may review its relations with Russia if the Moscow-Sokhumi treaty is signed

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, October 16
The Georgian government says that Moscow’s decision to sign a document with Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia seriously endangers relations between the two countries. The Georgian Foreign Ministry released a statement on October 15 voicing the official position of the government.

“Russia continues to violate the fundamental principles of international law and ignores its commitments,” the MFA says. The statement emphasizes the recent positive changes in the economic, trade and humanitarian relations between Russia and Georgia, and underscores that signing a treaty between Moscow and Sokhumi will seriously endanger the normalization of Georgian-Russian relations, and will significantly damage the international Geneva negotiations.

Moscow intends to sign a treaty with Abkhazia and set-up a joint Russian-Abkhaz defense and law-enforcement system. In addition, the new document will help Abkhazia further integrate into Russia’s economic and social system.

“The agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia on Alliance and Integration” was prepared by Moscow. De-facto president of the region Raul Khajimba has already asked his parliament to prepare remarks on the document.

“Despite the extremely difficult problems related to Georgia’s de-occupation and the restoration of its territorial integrity, two years ago the Georgian government offered Russia a new format of dialogue for the purpose of confidence-building. Implementation of this policy yielded positive results in the economic, trade and humanitarian areas. We believe that this process also plays a positive role in strengthening stability and security in the region,” the MFA states.

Representatives of the Abkhazian parliament are also concerned about the possible changes in the future of the region if a new treaty is signed with Moscow. Some Abkhazian think the treaty will not depict the actual interests of the region and moreover, it may lead to forfeiting the sovereignty of Akbhazia.

The draft document has already stirred controversy among members of the de-facto parliament. Meanwhile, Speaker of the Parliament Valeri Bganga stressed "there were more questions than answers” with regard to the draft treaty.

"Several paragraphs of the document speak about losing the sovereignty of Abkhazia,” Speaker Valeri Bganba said, commenting on the treaty. He believes it will be hard to get Abkhazian MPs to support the existing draft.

The Georgian government still has to come up with a unified foreign policy response and decide whether or not it should continue talks with Russia. Head of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee Tedo Japaridze calls on the government to terminate all talks with Russia. He believes the Georgian side should skip the next round of Geneva talks scheduled for December and also cancel the traditional Prague meeting between the Special Envoy on Russian Relations Zurab Abashidze and Russian deputy-Foreign Minister Gregori Kasrasin. However, Abashidze is against cancelling the talks and says there are a number of serious reasons to continue negotiations with Russia.

Georgian expert in international relation Korneli Kakachia says Russia is going to carry out the same scenario as it did in Tatarstan.

“It is not hard to predict – as soon as the treaty is signed between Moscow and Sokhumi, Russia will simply incorporate Abkhazia into its federation,” Kakachia told the IPN news agency. According to the expert, if Abkhazia accepts the treaty, which offers to set up joint military, economic and social structures with Russia, the region will voluntarily give up on its future of an independent state.