Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba in Sochi on November 24 and signed new treaty between Russia and the breakaway region on “alliance and strategic partnership.”
Putin said before the talks that Russia will “double” assistance to Abkhazia, which politically, economically and militarily already relies heavily on Moscow.
“I would like to note at the beginning of our meeting that the relations between Russia and Abkhazia are developing very successfully; we have a good normative legal base,” Putin told Khajimba.
“At the same time, our experts, members of the Parliaments came to a conclusion that it is necessary to take additional steps in order to create the best conditions for the development of economic links, as well as to ensure security of Abkhazia and to solve the main task – to improve the lives of people,” Putin said.
“I am very glad to see you and I am sure that today’s meeting will give a good boost to the development of the entire complex of our relations,” the Russian President added.
Khajimba told Putin: “Our country has been going through difficulties for quite a long time and today we are entering into a new phase of relations: by signing of this agreement, we will definitely increase those possibilities, which were provided by the Russian Federation earlier.”
“It involves security, as well as the issues related to social-economic development of Abkhazia. We pin our hopes on these relations and we have no doubt that the assistance rendered to us will be really useful for our state,” Khajimba said.
He also said that doubling of Russia’s financial assistance to Abkhazia “will give us relevant possibilities for developing our economic potential.”
“If in previous years we were mainly focusing on social projects, today we face a task of increasing the level of economic opportunities of our country,” Khajimba said.
Idea of “upgrading” existing partnership treaty with Russia was first publicly floated in Abkhazia in late May amid political standoff between then Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab and opposition, which at the time was led by Khajimba. The proposal was voiced by Khajimba-led opposition movement, which at the time was holding presidential building in Sokhumi.
After Ankvab was ousted, during the election campaign in the lead up of snap presidential polls, Khajimba was calling for even closer ties with Russia, but short of “association”. Three days after being elected as president of the breakaway region, Khajimba met Putin on August 27 at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow and agreed to sign new comprehensive cooperation treaty before the end of this year.
On October 13 the Abkhaz side made public Russia-proposed draft treaty on “alliance and integration,” which was criticized in Sokhumi. Two weeks later the Abkhaz side put forth its revised version of the treaty. Although the final text, which was approved for signing by governments of the breakaway region and Russia on November 19 and 20, respectively, reflected most of the Abkhaz proposals, concerns about possible absorption of the region by Russia as a result of this treaty still remain in the part of the Abkhaz society.