Abkhaz hardliners are putting up a fight against new ‘foreign policy concept,’ signed by Kremlin-backed leader Aslan Bzhania on December 4, over its clauses involving dialogue and normalization of relations with Tbilisi.
An influential group of Abkhaz war veterans “Aruaa” pushed the ‘parliament’ to host the discussion over the document on December 21, attended by the Abkhaz leadership, opposition politicians and civil society outfits.
At the hearing, the opposition expressed particular skepticism over the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict resolution part of the concept, in particular, the point 2.3, which envisages the possibility of establishing additional negotiation platforms with Tbilisi. This, they said, aims at replacing the Geneva International Discussions.
The hardliners also argued that no negotiations with Tbilisi can take place before it recognizes Sokhumi’s independence.
The opponents of the concept further accused the Abkhaz leadership of having failed to consult the ‘parliament’ and wider public before adopting the document. The opposition also scolded occupied region’s ‘foreign ministry’ for misleading the public by stating such discussions took place in the legislature.
“The concept should be canceled and the revised version should take into account the opinions of all political forces in Abkhazia,” suggested Adgur Ardzinba, Bzhania’s key rival in leadership race in March, who recently launched a new opposition platform.
”Aruaa” member Temur Nadaraia, former head of the region’s easternmost ethnic Georgian Gali district, slammed the concept, among others, for not including article over “systemic genocide” of the Abkhaz committed by Georgia throughout the 20th century.
“We have always declared and underline now as well the importance of operating the Geneva Talks,” Abkhaz foreign minister Daur Kove responded to the criticism, and added that the Abkhaz leadership does not consider substituting the Geneva International Discussions.
“Anything can be reflected in the document, but let’s ask ourselves whether this will benefit Abkhazia or will it rather stop some processes,” said Kove regarding the proposed amendments to the document.
Sergei Shamba, former long-serving Abkhaz foreign minister who now serves as the security council of the region, also attended the meeting. In his words, “speaking about relations with different countries [in the document], while not talking about relations with neighboring Georgia would probably be wrong.”
Shamba, who has been recently making the case for talks with Tbilisi, also recalled that before 2008 Abkhaz authorities under Vladislav Ardzinba and Sergey Bagapsh administrations were holding talks with Georgian authorities at different levels.
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