Talk of Joining the Union State of Russia and Belarus Spurs Debate in Occupied Abkhazia

On November 1, the de-facto legislature of the occupied Abkhazia was supposed to hold a special extended meeting of the “Committee on International, Interparliamentary Relations and Relations with Compatriots” to discuss Abkhazia’s readiness to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus. However, as committee chairman Alkhaz Bartsits says, the meeting did not take place top diplomat Inal Ardzinba was in “on a business trip.”

According to Bartsits, the idea of joining the Union State has been voiced by officials on various platforms and at various levels, although the specific essence and objective of this conversation is unclear to political representatives. He said, Inal Ardzinba was invited to provide explanations on the possibility of joining the Union and on whether this was compatible with “constitution and the interests of the Abkhaz population.”

He said, “There are a number of issues related to socio-economic direction, our traditional, our cultural values, which may not be acutely manifested everywhere in the post-Soviet space, as in the territory of Abkhazia, given our mentality, given our history.” Bartsits also speculated that the issues has been raised now because “the geopolitical environment is changing” and “we will probably have to define ourselves somehow.” He noted that Abkhazia has a strategic partnership and an ally in the image of the Russian Federation, but it is striving for recognition of the post-Soviet states and the discussion on what path is unacceptable and acceptable for Abkhazia to take to achieve this goal needs to be held.

Asked whether Abkhazia could enter into a union with a country that doesn’t recognize its independence (Belarus), Bartist replied that this would be mutually exclusive. He added that even if we assume that Belarus recognizes Abkhazia, there are arguments for and against joining the Union. “If this idea of a Union State could stimulate certain processes, maybe we could talk about it, well, in theory, let’s say yes, but in practice, again, it would be necessary to start from what risks this idea entails, that’s what we wanted to talk about today.”

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