The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia comments on the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on the South Caucasus
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia has thoroughly familiarized itself with the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on the South Caucasus which confirms the commitment of the EU to remain involved in conflict resolution and stabilization of the situation in the region as well as to strengthening its cooperation with the Abkhaz and South Ossetian communities.
First of all, it should be noted that it is not possible to pursue “greater EU visibility” in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or “to start transformative work,” without respecting the political choice made by the peoples of these independent states. Contrary to the proclaimed purpose to “engage” the citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the EU is alienating them by its discriminatory visa policy. It is evident that in recent years, Europe, as never before, has become closed to these citizens.
It is frustrating that the EU Foreign Ministers welcome the inefficient and politicized Georgian strategy for so called “engagement” with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Such statements can only discredit the European plans for cooperation with Abkhazia. It is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish the European interests towards Abkhazia from the interests of Tbilisi authorities. The Absence of substantial differences between the European and Georgian approaches impedes the improvement of relations between the EU and Abkhazia.
As long as the European strategy “Engagement without Recognition” means in reality “maximum non-recognition and minimum engagement”, any European initiatives towards Abkhazia will hardly be supported by the Abkhaz community. It is becoming more and more difficult to build confidence between Abkhazia and the European Union, which unambiguously has a pro-Georgian position.
The Russian military presence, about which the EU Ministers expressed their concern, is seen by the citizens of Abkhazia as the only real guarantee of security. Continuing reluctance of Georgia to sign a legal non-use of force document with Abkhazia and South Ossetia once again convinces the Abkhaz and South Ossetian people of the revanchist plans of Tbilisi authorities. All “sustainable security arrangements” proposed for the Geneva Discussions should take into account the positions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as parties to the conflict and legitimate subjects of the negotiation process.
We appreciate the role of the Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability. We do not doubt the positive effect of a regional European presence, realised by the mandate of the EU’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus. At the same time it is evident, that there will be no actual progress as long as the primary importance in negotiations, or any other political interaction, is assigned to the restoration of Georgia’s “territorial integrity”. Such political and legal programming of negotiation strategy by our Western colleagues is the main obstacle for resolution of the conflicts.
Nonetheless, despite the different positions, there is still an opportunity for making relations between Abkhazia and the EU more constructive. It is to our satisfaction to note that the executive authorities of the European Union do not use the term “occupied territory” imposed by Georgia when they refer to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We also welcome the fact that the conclusions appeal to the Georgian authorities to enhance integration of refugees into the communities of their current residence in this country.
Abkhazia is a part of Europe. We are ready to cooperate with those European and international political bodies which have at least a neutral position on the political and legal status of Abkhazia. Unfortunately, judging by the whole histrionic spirit of the conclusions, the European politicians are still preoccupied by obstinate commitment to the non-existing mythical “territorial integrity of Georgia”. Only deliverance from such useless and outdated complexes can contribute to a more positive EU presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well as in the whole region.
Source: MFA Abkhazia (Комментарий Министерства иностранных дел Республики Абхазия в связи с постановлением Совета Министров иностранных дел Европейского Союза по странам Южного Кавказа)