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Sokhumi Publishes List of Sanctions Against Turkey

Thursday, January 21
The Government in the breakaway territory of Abkhazia has published a list of sanctions against Turkey, which, among others, includes the ban of imported fish products, fruits and vegetables starting from March 1, 2016.

The authorities in the breakaway region announced their intention to join Russia’s sanctions against Turkey on January 11, two weeks after the Russian President’s aide Vladislav Surkov visited Sokhumi to press authorities there for “coordinated” action amid tensions in Turkey-Russia relations following the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey in November.

Abkhaz PM Artur Mikvabia’s January 11 decree, which instructed ministries to compile a list of restrictive measures, said that the move was pursuant to the treaty on alliance and strategic partnership between Russia and Abkhazia, which, among others, also envisages carrying out “coordinated” foreign policy.

The new decree of the breakaway region’s PM - dated from January 15 and made public on January 19 - lists specific measures, including “temporarily banning the registration and suspending activities of those non-commercial organizations and entities, operating on the territory of Abkhazia, which are founded or managed by Turkish citizens, and/or organizations, which are under Turkish jurisdiction and/or organizations controlled by Turkish citizens.” The breakaway region’s Justice Ministry has been instructed to draft bills within two months setting “legislative basis for applying restrictive measures.”

The list also includes a ban on hiring Turkish companies or other entities “controlled” by Turkish citizens for implementing infrastructural projects, carried out in Abkhazia with Russian aid funds.

Starting from March 1 2016, Sokhumi will also ban the import of fish products from Turkey, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cabbage, cucumbers, citrus fruits, grapes, melons, apples, pears, apricots, cherries, peaches and plums.

The list does not include building materials, fuel and textiles, which reportedly make up most of the Turkish imports in the breakaway region.

Last week, the chairman of the state committee on ecology and environment protection of breakaway Abkhazia, Saveliy Chitanava, said that although initially it the government intended to replace Turkish fishing vessels with Russian boats this year for fishing along the Abkhaz Black Sea coast, the plan was dropped because the Russian fleet had an overall smaller capacity that would not have allowed Abkhaz fish processing facilities to work at their full potential.

“Saying no to Turkish fishing vessels would have amounted to ruining the fishery sector of Abkhazia… which contributed about 200 million rubles to the Abkhaz budget last year,” he said.

Economic activities in Abkhazia without authorization from the Georgian authorities constitute violations of Georgia’s legislation, including the laws on occupied territories. At least four Turkish vessels were detained by the Georgian coast guard in 2013 for unauthorized entry to breakaway Abkhazia, but no such cases of detention of Turkish vessels have been reported since then. (