Abkhazia shouldn’t turn into the main subject of Georgian-Russian relations
By Vestnik Kavkaza
Russia has offered Abkhazia a draft of the agreement for cooperation and integration. It requires the establishment of a United Group of Armed Forces of Russia and Abkhazia for resisting foreign aggression and jointly guarding the border of Abkhazia. At the moment the sides are discussing and improving the document. The initiative was extremely negatively perceived in Georgia.
The chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs, Alexei Pushkov, commented on the attitude of the Georgian authorities to the agreement: “It would be right and better for both sides – Russia and Georgia – if the topic didn’t become the main subject of Georgian-Russian relations. Let’s take reality. At the moment Abkhazia is not a territory which is controlled by the Georgian government. At the same time, in the last few years there has been real progress in relations between Moscow and Tbilisi in the sphere of trade, transport and economic contacts; and the Georgian budget benefits from this.”
The expert stresses that by escalating the recently-improved situation, Georgia is shooting itself in the foot, being unable to change the situation: “Georgian goods, which previously couldn’t find an outlet market, have returned to the Russian market in mass volume. It is unreasonable to make the progress, which has been reached in Russian-Georgian relations and is beneficial for Georgia, dependent on the signing of an agreement on security between Russia and Abkhazia. From the point of view of prospects of cooperation with Russia, including trade and economic ones, it is a wrong step, as Russia already provides Abkhazia with security. The signing of the agreement means legal confirmation of the process which is already going on; the essence hasn’t been changed.”
“I realize,” Pushkov says “When the opposition, which represents the interests of Mikhail Saakashvili who wanted to come back to Georgia, use it to put pressure on the government. But for the Georgian government itself, turning the topic into the main issue of Russian-Georgian relations could lead to the elimination of the positive impulses which have been reached previously and which meet the real interests of Georgian citizens, the Georgian economy. They simply make Georgia’s life easier, and we welcome them, as we want normalization of relations with Georgia. I think a struggle against the situation won’t lead anywhere but a new crisis of Georgian-Russian relations. Georgia won’t benefit from it, and we don’t want it either.”