Kremlin-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania met with Belarussian leader Aleksandar Lukashenka on 28 September to discuss bilateral cooperation, as well as international security, and current challenges, in the resort town of Bichvinta, occupied Abkhazia. This is Lukashenka’s first visit to occupied Abkhazia while in office. His last official visit to Tbilisi took place in March, 2018.
Sokhumi-based apsnypress reported that during their meeting, Bzhania recalled Lukashenka’s support for Abkhazia during the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) amidst the economic blockade imposed upon it after the 1992-1993 Abkhazia conflict.
Bzhania also expressed confidence that Lukashenka’s visit would “give a new impetus to relations between the two peoples.”
For his part, Lukashenka recalled his visit to Abkhazia in the past and denoted that he recently discussed issues related to Abkhazia with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which they “came to the same conclusion that Abkhazia should not be abandoned.”
“Today, more than ever, we have seen what the world has become,” Lukashenka stressed. “We will not be allowed to live in peace. Therefore, we must strengthen relations with friends.”
Bzhania retorted that the occupied region is “closely monitoring the events that are taking place in the world.” “Every citizen of Abkhazia is concerned about this,” he said.
Notably, the meeting between Lukashenka and Bzhania occurred after the occupied region’s top diplomat, Inal Ardzinba signed a dual citizenship agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 27 September, as Georgia marked 29 years since the fall of Sokhumi.
Question of recognition
Significantly, Belarus does not recognize the independence of occupied Abkhazia or of the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Traditionally, it votes against the UN General Assembly resolution which reiterates the right of return for all displaced persons and refugees to Georgia’s occupied regions, alongside Russia.
In February, 2022 Lukashenka said in an interview with Russian media personality Vladimir Solovyov he does not rule out recognizing the independence of the two occupied regions “as long as I understand and President [Vladimir Putin] tells me there is a need for it.” The Georgian Foreign Ministry reacted at the time, the recognition of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region is “not on the agenda.”
Minsk was considering in 2009 to recognize Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region, after Moscow had done so in the aftermath of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Eventually, Lukashenka said he rejected the recognition because Russia refused to share negative consequences, including sanctions expected for Belarus from the West in case of such a decision.
Besides Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Nauru and Nicaragua are the only nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia. Tbilisi and most of the international community regard the two regions as part of Georgia.
- 27/09/2022 – Sokhumi, Moscow Sign Dual Citizenship Agreement
- 08/02/2022 – 23:06 – Lukashenko Knows How to Act on Abkhazia, S. Ossetia, Says Kremlin
- 08/02/2022 – 12:43 – Tbilisi, Sokhumi React to Lukashenko Remarks
- 07/02/2022 – 17:30 – Lukashenko on Possible Abkhazia, S. Ossetia Recognition