Russia-breakaway Abkhazia leaders meet to sign new treaty

Russia’s President meets new leader of breakaway Abkhazia Raul Khajimba at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence on August 27, 2014. Photo: Kremlin, 24 Nov 2014 - 14:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and de-facto president of Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia are scheduled to meet in Russia’s Black Sea resort town Sochi today and sign an alliance treaty despite the document being condemned by Georgia and the international community.

One aspect of the ‘Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ treaty outlined the creation of a joint Russian-Abkhazian military force.

The agreement was proposed by the Kremlin and amended by de-facto Abkhaz officials, and has been strongly condemned by official Tbilisi, who said the draft document was a step forward to the annexation of Georgia’s territories.

Yesterday the Kremlin announced that bilateral relations and cooperation in regional security would also be discussed at the meeting between Putin and so-called Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba in Sochi.

Khajimba was confident that signing the treaty with Russia would be another step towards strengthening relations with Moscow. He believed the bilateral agreement was fully in line with the Abkhaz constitution.

"Russia was the only country that supported us when we had a hard time. Being unrecognized, Russia remained faithful to the historical alliance with Abkhazia. If not Abkhazia, NATO troops would have already been standing on Russia’s southern borders. We have protected ourselves and at the same time protected the interests of Russia as well,” Khajimba said in an interview with Abkhaz state television.

Khajimba stressed that the treaty was Russia’s demonstration and show of confidence and respect towards the Abkhaz people.

"Abkhazians reliability towards our traditional ally, Russia, is being tested. We should keep in mind that it is called the treaty on alliance and strategic partnership,” he said.

Proposed treaty will be protested in Sokhumi

The Moscow-proposed treaty has raised concerns in some parts of Abkhazia, with some saying certain paragraphs in the document are against the "Abkhaz statehood and sovereignty”.

Opposition political party Amtsakhara was expected to hold a protest rally in the main square of Sokhumi today, November 24.

Meanwhile the political supporters of Abkhaz leader Khajimba also called on society to organise a parallel rally for the same time that supported the signing of the treaty.

Tbilisi condemns Russia-Abkhazia treaty Official Tbilisi believes the revised ‘Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ treaty between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia is a step towards the annexation of Georgia’s territories.

Deputy Interior Ministry Levan Izoria today said the document was illegal and unrecognised by the international community.

"We will continue the non-recognition policy in close cooperation with international society,” he said.

Georgia’s main opposition party United National Movement (UNM) have drafted a special resolution that called the Government to take action against the signing of the Russia-Abkhazia treaty.

UNM called for the country’s officials to take three main steps against the annexation of Abkhazia. It called for the country to join the international sanctions against Russia, invite the United Nations Security Council to Georgia and cancel the informal Georgia-Russia dialogue between Special representative of Georgia’s Prime Minister for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.

At a special media briefing today UNM leader David Bakradze said: "This is a continuation of the policy, which started even in the Soviet time when Abkhazia and Samachablo (Tskhinvali or South Ossetia, another breakaway region of Georgia) granted autonomy. Then in the 1920s there was the conflict and ethnic cleansing. "This was followed in 2008 by military occupation and now Russia tries with the legal annexation to finally indigenous the oldest parts of Georgia.”

Revised draft treaty

The Russia-Abkhazia ‘Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ document is a revised version of the initial draft treaty after complaints were raised in Sokhumi.

The Abkhaz side changed the name of the document from ‘Agreement on Alliance and Integration’ to ‘Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership’.

Like in the Russian draft, one of the main issues about the creation of a "common defence and security space” remained in the Abkhaz version among "key directions” of this "alliance and strategic partnership”.

The Kremlin said the validity of the proposed agreement was ten years but there was a possibility of extending the agreement for subsequent five-year periods.

As well as creating a "common defence and security space” the agreement also outlined a partnership on "implementing a coordinated foreign policy” and "establishing common social and economic area".