Jun 05, 2012

Abkhazia: Serbia Mulling Recognition?

Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolic has explained he is considering recognition, in a move being closely watched by commentators.

Below is an article published by Vestnik Kavkaza:

New Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told a Russian radio station that he is considering the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But he emphasized that a comparison of the situation with recognition of Kosovo is inappropriate. If official Belgrade recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it would become the first European state, besides Russia, to do it.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze called this idea “a misconception”.

 Alexey Vlasov, Editor-in-Chief of Vestnik Kavkaza, Director General of the Information and Analyses Center for Studies of Socio-Political Processes of the Post-Soviet Space of the Moscow State University of Lomonosov, has commented on the news to Golos Rossii.

 - Nicolic said at the very start that he would go for rapprochement with Russia, certainly aggravating his ties with the European Union. This is, no doubt, good news, but it is rather off the boat. Do you think it is realizable? What would relations would Serbia have with the European Union, Georgia, Russia then?

- It is a breakthrough for us. As you pointed out right, it is the first statement of a leader of a country trying to enter the European Union, planning directly and clearly to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the states that no even all Russia’s allies have recognized. In particular, Belarus and Kazakhstan have not resolved the issue yet. Certainly, if the decision were realized, the situation around recognition of Tskhinvali and Sukhumi would change totally.

But I do not want to be hasty with optimistic conclusions, because the following developments are possible: it is some sort of a message to the European Union, which has caused concerns over arrival of a man with unclear images about the future to power, including plans of European integration. Time will show whether it is a bargain in the political game of the new Serbian president or an honest desire to join the clearway of the Russian foreign policy.

 - In this case, he will have to recognize Kosovo too.

- Yes, this is firstly. Secondly, there are other problems arising in the prospects of Serbia in the European Union. As far as I understand, the old authorities called the problem resolved, the states wants to resolve the problem in the near future. So there are, certainly, many issues that give no joy to the expert society, Russian political class, because the path from desire to realization is a very long one, as we have seen.

 - At least the attempt was set.

- Agreed.

 - Concerning Georgian reaction. On the one hand, it is clear that the Georgian Foreign Ministry called it a misconception hoping that it will be fixed soon. What relations do Georgia and Serbia have? Why does Georgia say that it has close ties with Serbia thinking that Nikolic will change his mind?

- It would be a great exaggeration to say that Serbia and Georgia are developing some strategic projects in economics and politics. The most likely reason is that Georgia, having announced its plans to join the European Union and NATO, has common settings on the way to join the European Union with the old authorities of Serbia. It considers itself and Serbia states that have chosen the European scenario, the European path for development, which is common.

It turns out that the state heading directly to become a member of the European Union under the old authorities has suddenly made a U-turn which counters the Georgian argument that the European choice is the only reasonable choice of the democratic civilized European society, despite the Kosovo problem.

It is also a project of the domestic political context for Saakashvili in the light of the upcoming parliamentary campaign of autumn and then the presidential campaign of 2013. So there is another variant. It means that it does not have to be the European Union, it is not necessary. It is a very serious issue for the ruling political class of Georgia.

- Does Nikolic break stereotypes in a certain sense?

- Absolutely right. This is why I cannot believe fully believe it. Let’s see what steps follow, because it is a very serious decision.

Moreover: Turkey has been monitoring Serbia’s movements attentively, because Turkey has a very firm Abkhaz community that has its own instruments to affect the Turkish political class. I do not rule out that the Serbian president may realize his plan, while it may change for Abkhazia: if not de jure, then de facto the situation with Ankara’s part in economic projects of the coast and the resort zone may change. The cards will be mixed for sure.