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No one can prevent Russia, Abkhazia from updating ties — ministry

October 16, 2014, 20:33 UTC+3

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich commented on a Georgian Foreign Ministry statement censuring a draft interstate treaty under way between Russia and Abkhazia

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People hold national flags of Russia and Abkhazia in Sukhum

People hold national flags of Russia and Abkhazia in Sukhum

© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Popov

MOSCOW, October 16. /TASS/. No one is in the position to prevent Russia and Abkhazia from updating their interstate relations, given strengthening integration tendencies on the post-Soviet space and in the world on the whole, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday commenting on a Georgian Foreign Ministry statement censuring a draft interstate treaty under way between Russia and Abkhazia.

“Contrary to allegations of the Georgian side, this prospect poses no threat either to the process of normalization of Georgian-Russian relations, or to international Geneva discussions,” Lukashevich said.

“We have no doubt that an open and interested discussion of a draft treaty under way in Abkhazia will help to jointly work out a document that would fully meet the national interests of the two countries,” the diplomat said.

“A criminal military venture of [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s regime August 2008 brought about irreversible political changes in the South Caucasus,” the spokesman said.

“Russia recognized the republic of Abkhazia and the republic of South Ossetia as independent sovereign states,” he continued. “A treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance of September 17, 2008 laid the foundation of Russian-Abkhazian interstate relations,” he said.

Social and economic restoration and development of Abkhazia were priority directions of cooperation since the very beginning, Lukashevic said.

However, “Tbilisi’s stubborn unwillingness to respect Abkhazia’s choice of independence prompted Moscow and Sukhum to include already in the treaty of 2008 provisions on joint defense against aggression and joint protection of the republic’s border,” the diplomat said.

“A Russian military base was set up in Abkhazia and a border contingent was deployed on the basis of separate agreements that followed,” he added.

“A confrontation mood of yesterday’s statement by the Georgian Foreign Ministry, statements by Georgian activists are a convincing argument in favour of further strengthening of Russian-Abkhazian security cooperation,” he added.

Abkhazia sought independence from Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Deterioration of relations between Georgia and Abkhazia reached its peak in the 1990s and led to armed clashes that left about 20,000 people killed. In 1994, Abkhazia adopted its own constitution and declared independence from Georgia. A referendum in 1999 supported the republic’s statehood, but it was never accepted by the international community.

In early August 2008 when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, Abkhazia backed Russia’s operation to coerce Georgia into peace and asked Moscow to recognize its sovereignty. After the 2008 conflict, Moscow declared that it would formally recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Venezuela, Nicaragua and the tiny Pacific island of Nauru followed suit in recognizing Abkhazia, but the rest of the world considers both territories part of Georgia.

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