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Fate of Abashidze-Karasin meetings unclear

By Messenger Staff
Friday, October 17
After a Russian-Abkhazian treaty was revealed to the media, members of the United National Movement are demanding the suspension of Georgian-Russian negotiations through the special envoys of the two countries. The treaty, which essentially confirms Russia’s annexation of Abkhazia, became public just prior to Abashidze-Karasin meeting. The fate of the format will depend on the outcome of the meeting.

After winning the 2012 parliamentary election, then Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili appointed Zurab Abashidze as Georgia’s special envoy to Russia. Many believed that the step was risky, as standing alone with Russia is a dangerous endeavor.

However, the Karasin-Abashidze meetings had a restricted format. It strictly dealt with economic and cultural relations and did not touch on issues related to occupied regions. Nevertheless, there were some people who though that the warming of relations would be followed by a discussion in terms of the de-facto regions’ problems. In order to maintain the format with Russia, the current government had to close its eyes on certain violations, particularly the barbed wire fences that have been erected on the border areas.

The treaty that will most probably be signed between Abkhazia and Russia does not leave space for ignoring the problem; after the recent annexation of Crimea, Russia intends to annex Abkhazia. The content of the treaty points clearly to this.

Here a question arises: Is there any point in continuing the Abashidze-Karasin meeting format when Russia aims at Abkhazia’s annexation? The main topic of the current meeting between the envoys must be the treaty. Georgia has its own strict position over the document.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry states that signing of the treaty will be assessed as an attempt at annexing Abkhazia. The official statement also reads that the treaty between Moscow and Sokhumi will seriously endanger the normalization of Georgian-Russian relations, and will significantly damage the international Geneva negotiations.

President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili made a special statement and addressed parliament, while laying out the government’s position on the treaty. The president stresses that the treaty endangers the whole region’s security and violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The parliamentary minority is planning to draft a resolution in response to this development and hopes to collaborate with the government in order for the country to avoid the annexation of Abkhazia.

Government members do not exclude the possibility that the Abashidze-Karasin format will be suspended. According to the Minister for European and Euro Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili, if Russia continues the annexation of the region, the format will lose its importance.