Russia and Abkhazia sign extensive agreement on military and defense policies
Russia and Abkhazia have signed an extensive agreement on military issues and Abkhazia agreed to harmonize its foreign and defence policies with those of Russia. A Russian commander will lead a new joint force of Russian and Abkhazian troops.
The leaders of both countries, Vladimir Putin and Raul Khadzhimba, lauded the agreement:
“I’m sure cooperation, unity and strategic partnerships between Russia and Abkhazia will continue to strengthen. Ties with Russia offer us full security guarantees.”Abkhazia regards itself as an independent state, The Republic of Abkhazia, but aside from Russia, only Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru recognize the state. Abkhazia is also recognized by the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations:
South Ossetia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Abkhazia are post-Soviet "frozen conflict" zones...These four unrecognized states maintain friendly relations with each other and form the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations.Georgia itself regards Abkhazia as an autonomous republic within Georgia with the government in exile in Tbilsi the capital.
Russian troops have been Abkhazia for more than 20 years, ever since Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in a bloody war for separation in 1992-93. The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili tried to retake South Ossetia in 2008 causing Russian intervention. While most of the fighting was in South Ossetia the Russians occupied other parts of Georgia briefly and after the conflict recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. Georgia last summer signed a cooperation deal with the EU. Putin's recent move may be a response to this move.
The new agreement with Abkhazia will give Abkhazian residents pensions and social benefits equal to those of Russian citizens. Many Abkhazians have Russian passports. Georgia also issues what is called a neutral passport :
In the summer of 2011 the Parliament of Georgia adopted a package of legislative amendments providing for the issuance of neutral identification and travel documents to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The document allows travelling abroad as well as enjoying social benefits existing in Georgia. The new neutral identification and travel documents were called "neutral passports".Russia condemned the passports because they contained Georgian codes and they were issued by the Georgian Interior Ministry. A number of states recognize the passports including Japan, Czech Republic, US, Bulgaria, Poland, Israel,and Romania among others.
The present Georgian government that won over Saakashvili's party in 2012 is regarded as friendly toward Russia and has been attempting to repair ties. However, there were large demonstrations in the capital Tbilsi against the present treaty. Saakashvili has criticized the present Georgian government for doing whatever Russia wants. His party leader David Bakradze said: “The Georgian government has done practically nothing.” Bakradze urged Georgia to join western sanctions against Russia and walk out of political talks with Russia.
The Russian agreement with Abkhazia may be designed to ensure that if Georgia takes a pro-western turn, Abkhazia will be defended against any renewed attempt to re-incorporate it into Georgia. The agreement specifically guarantees “protection of the state border of the Republic of Abkhazia with Georgia.”