Monday, 15 September 2008

Russian FM makes first official visit to Abkhazia

In his first official visit to Sukhum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Abkhazian president Sergey Bagapsh. Abkhazia will not accept EU or OSCE observers on its territory, said Bagapsh in a press conference after the meeting.

Lavrov discussed candidates for Russian and Abkhaz ambassadors in the two countries with president Sergei Bagapsh, as well as the prospective location of the Russian embassy in Sukhum. The new ambassadors are to be named in the near future.

Lavrov pledged Russia's commitment to developing Abkhazia, and securing recognition of its independence by other countries. Besides Russia, Nicaragua is the only country to fully recognise the republic's independence. Belarus and Venezuela have indicated they may recognise it in the near future.

Russia guarantees there will be no more war in Abkhazia. That will be done with the help of the treaty of amity, cooperation and mutual assistance, which will be signed at the summit level in the near future,” Lavrov stated at a joint press-conference with Sergei Bagapsh.

We shall sign specific agreements regarding various sectors as is fitting for two countries that are allies. They will cover areas of defence and security, customs and borders, free trade and tax policies, currency and banking system. This is in direct line with the assistance the Russian Federation is giving Abkhazia to become a fully independent state,” he added.

The plane carrying Lavrov and a group of journalists was the first civil aircraft to land in the Abkhazian capital for more than a decade. Lavrov said that he can personally attest that the airport is in perfect condition and ready to receive international passengers.

No EU, OSCE observers in – Abkhazia’s president

Only Russian monitors will be allowed into the newly independent republic of Abkhazia, according to President Sergey Bagapsh. OSCE and EU officials are expected to monitor the security zone on the border with Georgia.

Abkhazia will not allow EU or OSCE observers on its territory. We have no need to do that. Its not us, who created problems in the region. Monitoring has to be carried out where the problems came from,” Abkhaz president Sergei Bagapsh said.

Eight thousand Russian troops are to be deployed in Abkhazia to maintain security.

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