Raul Khajimba and Vladislav Surkov, July 3, 2017. Photo: presidentofabkhazia.org
Russian President’s aide Vladislav Surkov, who oversees Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, visited Sokhumi on July 3, and discussed, among other issues, Russia’s financial assistance to the region.
Surkov, who is deeply implicated in all political decisions of the two regions, held meetings with Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba, as well as the head of the Abkhaz government Beslan Bartsits.
In the opening statement before his meeting with Raul Khajimba, Vladislav Surkov pointed out that it was important to look at “outstanding issues” of economic and political cooperation during the talks, including the implementation of the treaty on “alliance and strategic partnership” signed between Sokhumi and Moscow on November 24, 2014.
At the press engagement after the meeting, Surkov praised relations with Sokhumi leadership and said that he and Khajimba “understand each other perfectly and are absolutely like-minded.” “I am happy to underline that politically there is a very favorable period in the republic, [there is] stability, which is critically important for the development of the republic, its economy and social life,” Surkov noted.
“Our meeting was held in a very positive atmosphere … new stage of the investment program has been launched, financial transfers have already been made from Russia, high quality documentation was prepared [by the Abkhaz side] on all facilities [to be funded], most of which is of infrastructural character, which I believe is very important, since we have built quite a lot of social facilities already. Infrastructural facilities are necessary for economic development, as well as for tourism, industry and many other [sectors],” Surkov added.
Speaking on the business environment in the region, the Kremlin aide stressed that there are “certain” restrictions “hampering” the private investments from Russian businesses, including of infrastructural and political nature (property in Abkhazia can be only owned by “the citizens of Abkhazia”).
“The real estate market is strictly limited here and if this restriction was reasonably lifted, without endangering Abkhazia’s sovereignty, it would give as a strong impetus ahead,” Surkov noted.
Surkov also touched upon Russia’s future plans with regards to Sokhumi, saying that he hopes the agreement on medical insurance will be “ratified and completed,” increasing the level of medical service in Abkhazia “to Russian standards.”
The two spoke on the agreement on dual citizenship between Sokhumi and Moscow, granting the right to obtain Russian citizenship to “the citizens of Abkhazia.” Here, the Abkhaz leader noted that the agreement “is being discussed by the [Abkhaz] cabinet of ministers” and expressed hope that the Russian and the Abkhaz sides would complete the process “in the nearest future.”
The agreement on dual citizenship, is part of the treaty on “the friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance” signed between Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev and the Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh on September 17, 2008.
According to the document, citizens of one contracting party can obtain the citizenship of another contracting party “on terms and in the manner established by the legislation of the contracting party whose citizenship is obtained.”
Russia also committed to “undertake additional measures” to ease procedures required for obtaining Russian citizenship for “the citizens of Abkhazia,” in the treaty on “alliance and strategic partnership” signed between Sokhumi and Moscow on November 24, 2014.
During his one-day visit to Sokhumi, Vladislav Surkov and Beslan Bartsits inspected a number of facilities renovated with Russian funding, including a school and a library in Sokhumi.