Tbilisi and Sokhumi Contest Russia’s Abkhazia Plans
Author: By Zaza Jgharkava
After 23 years of friction and, at times war, Georgia and Abkhazia appear to see eye to eye, on one issue at least. Tbilisi and Sokhumi united around the threat of Russia, specifically a draft agreement bringing into question the sovereignty of Abkhazia.
Last week, the draft of the Alliance and Integration Agreement between Russia and Abkhazia was published on the website of the parliament of so-called Abkhazia. The agreement consisting of 6 chapters and 25 articles was given to Abkhaz MPs for their consideration while Tbilisi quickly delivered its damning response, referring to the document as annexation of the occupied territory. Surprisingly, there was a similarly negative response in Sokhumi where the Speaker of the de-facto parliament assessed the Russian project negatively and described the draft agreement as a loss of sovereignty.
The draft written in Moscow considers the creation of many joint structures, which representatives of Russia should lead and amounts, in truth, to the removal of Abkhazian sovereignty. In particular, according to Article 5, Moscow is offering Sokhumi the chance to form unified military groupings. The agreement also considers the creation of unified social, economic, cultural and humanitarian spaces.
In Tbilisi and Sokhumi perceptions of territorial integrity are different. However, the fact that former enemies perceive the Kremlin as an aggressor indicates that something is changing in the Caucasus status quo and the Kremlin is stirring a new recipe for the region’s politics. When Georgia signed the EU Association Agreement, Russia took the “geopolitical impudence” of the new government of Georgia quietly. In Brussels, after the signature focus switched to how the Kremlin would react to Tbilisi for this “impudence”, especially against the background of the Kremlin’s reactions to similar steps taken by Moldova and of course Ukraine.