Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the leader of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region Raul Khajimba today signed a new treaty between Moscow and Sokhumi on ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ in Russia’s Black Sea resort town Sochi.
Khajimba believed Abkhazia "as a country experiencing hard times for a long period” entered a new phase of relations with Russia by signing this document despite the document being condemned by Georgia and the international community.
"The new treaty is another step in strengthening relations with Russia. We had an opportunity in the long-term perspective to ensure safety. Thus we are committed to ensuring the security of our ally- Russia. This is an equal relationship between two sovereign states,” Khajimba said.
"It involves security, as well as the issues related to social-economic development of Abkhazia. We are confident on these relations and we have no doubt that the assistance rendered to us will be really useful for our state,” Khajimba said.
The treaty will come into force from January 1, 2015. The agreement is valid for ten years but there is a possibility of extending the agreement for subsequent five-year periods.
Meanwhile, today it was announced Russia would allocated 5 billion RUB ($111 million USD) for the full implementation of the ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ in 2015.
Earlier today before the talks between Putin and Khajimba started, Russia’s President announced Moscow would "double” its assistance to Abkhazia.
"Relations between Russia and Abkhazia are developing very successfully. We have a good normative legal base,” Putin said.
The ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’ treaty outlined creating a "common defence and security space”, "implementing a coordinated foreign policy” and "establishing common social and economic area".
Implementing a coordinated foreign policy included supporting Abkhazia to work on recognition policy and expanding the list of countries that recognized Abkhazia’s independence.
In addition, the agreement will create the necessary conditions Abkhazia to become a member of international organisations and associations.
Defence and Security
A "common defence and security space” envisaged creating a "combined group of forces” for the purpose of "repelling aggression”.
It also envisaged "joint measures” to protect the Abkhaz borders. According to the final document, both sides have committed to take action aimed at modernising the Abkhaz armed forces within three years once the treaty comes into play.
Social and Economic Cooperation
Russia has pledged to increase the state pensions of those who lived in Abkhazia to the same amount offered in Russia in the three years following the implementation of the deal.
The treaty also noted to make Russian citizens who lived in Abkhazia eligible for Russia’s federal compulsory health insurance system.
This would allow these people to have access to Russian-funded healthcare services in Russia. According to the final draft, this should be done within one year.
Russia also pledged to "undertake additional measures” to ease procedures required for obtaining Russian citizenship for Abkhaz citizens.