Georgia slams Russia for lifting sanctions on Abkhazia

March 8th, 2008 - 5:26 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Tbilisi (Georgia), March 8 (RIA Novosti) Georgia has denounced Russia’s decision to lift sanctions from Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia as illegal. “This is an immoral and illegal decision. A serious provocation aimed at destabilising the situation in the Caucasus that will lead to an unpredictable development of events,” President Mikheil Saakashvili said Friday.

Russia has lifted trade, economic, financial and transport sanctions against Abkhazia Thursday, and urged other CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries to follow suit. The CIS is an alliance of the erstwhile Soviet republics.

“We declare zero tolerance regarding Abkhazia’s militarisation. All responsibility for these actions will lie with the Russian leadership,” Saakashvili said in a statement, adding the sanctions included a ban on bringing armaments, troops and foreign military instructors into the unrecognised republic.

Abkhazia appealed Friday to the UN and Russia to recognise its independence, citing Kosovo as a precedent.

“The unrecognised republic has established itself as an independent, democratic state,” the statement said, adding the recognition of Kosovo by the US and majority of the European countries in mid-February had irrevocably altered the geopolitical situation.

Abkhazia with a population of some 200,000 and another self-proclaimed republic, South Ossetia, with a population of about 100,000, were involved in armed conflicts with Georgia after proclaiming independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze told reporters in Belgium that Tbilisi’s official position on the issue would be announced at a special press conference to be held by Georgia’s representative to the UN.

Georgia, which has sought to regain control over the separatist republics, called Russia’s decision to lift economic sanctions against Abkhazia “a blunt attempt to violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

It also threatened retaliatory measures to protect its interests. On Friday, it summoned the Russian ambassador to Georgia to register a protest over Moscow’s actions.

Moscow has repeatedly said the recognition of Kosovo will set a precedent for other breakaway regions, including in the former Soviet Union. Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is to discuss Abkhazia and South Ossetia March 13.

Justifying its decision Thursday, Russia cited “a change of circumstances” and blamed Georgia for a “non-constructive” policy toward Abkhazia. Moscow said preserving the sanctions no longer made sense and “is harmful for the region’s socio-economic development”.

Analysts said Kremlin’s decision to restore trade ties with Abkhazia was partially prompted by plans to use the neighbouring Black Sea region’s resources to build an Olympic infrastructure in the resort of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games. Russia will also not now have to justify the acquisition of land and property in Abkhazia.
RIA Novosti

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