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Abkhazia ‘seeks closer ties with Russia, unification not on agenda’

August 25, 2014, 20:55 UTC+3 SUKHUM

Political opposition leader Raul Khadzimba on Sunday won in a presidential election in Abkhazia

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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsyn

SUKHUM, August 25. /ITAR-TASS/. Abkhazia seeks to strengthen ties with Russia, but a full unification is not on the agenda, the chairperson of the Abkhazian Civic Chamber told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

“The majority in Abkhazia believe the country must remain independent, but maintain very close relations with Moscow, as we have a huge program in security sphere,” Natella Akaba said. “We live in a restive region, we see geopolitical processes underway,” with Georgia refusing to sign a peace treaty with Abkhazia, she added.

Focusing on relations with Russia after Abkhazia’s presidential election, she said “I think the agreements signed between Abkhazia and Russia don’t work in full”. “Russia is the only big state that recognized Abkhazia, it is our ally and there can be no alternative,” she added.

Commenting on the recent presidential election, she said it had proceeded calmly with “just a few unpleasant incidents”. She also welcomed the fact that no second round would be needed, as “all in Abkhazia are a bit tired of political processes and want stability and certainty”.

The chairwoman believes the situation in the country will remain stable, but a lot will depend on whether the team of the new president will live up to voter expectations.

Political opposition leader Raul Khadzimba on Sunday won in a presidential election in Abkhazia, a region whose claim to independence is disputed by Georgia and its allies, and he will be inaugurated in 30 days, Acting Abkhazian President and parliament speaker Valery Bganba, said on Monday.

Bganba told ITAR-TASS he was satisfied that Sunday‘s snap presidential election in the Black Sea region, which seceded from Georgia after a war in the early 1990s, was held without any gross violations which could affect the outcome.

Khadzhimba won 50.57% of the votes, clearly beating his main rival Aslan Bzhania, the region‘s security services chief, who got 35.91%, the election commission said on Monday. The two other candidates - Defense Minister Merab Kishmaria and former interior minister Leonid Dzapshba - got 6.4 and 3.4% respectively. Turnout among the region‘s nearly 130,000 registered voters was almost 70%, according to the election commission’s statement.

Abkhazia, a province situated on the north-western Black Sea coast, 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. Russia's allies Nicaragua and Venezuela followed the suit, as did a number of small Pacific island states.

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