Dec 22, 2006

Abkhazia: FC Draws Statement on Abkhazian, Ossetian Independence Referenda

The Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament prepared a statement in connection with the independence referenda in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament prepared a statement in connection with the independence referenda in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The statement is expected to be approved at a plenary meeting on Friday, chairman of the house committee on CIS affairs Vadim Gustov told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

His committee was instructed to prepare the text of the statement. "We proceeded from European approaches to nations' rights to self-determination," Gustov said, "by holding the referenda, the peoples of these two republics stated their right to independence. So we cannot pretend as if nothing is happening."

Gustov noted that the authors of the document emphasized "the necessity of developing cross border cooperation with Abkhazia, where many Russian citizens live."

One has to make use of all the resources for "restoring a normal, conflict-free life of the populations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the senator said.

At the referendum in South Ossetia on November 12, an overwhelming majority of voters supported the independence of this self-proclaimed republic.

According to South Ossetia's Central Election Commission, 99.88 percent of citizens who came to voting stations, said "yes" to the question "Do you agree to the republic of South Ossetia's maintaining its current status of independent state and being recognized by the international community?"

On December 6, the State Duma passed a special statement in connection with the results of the referendum in South Ossetia. "The problem of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict should be resolved solely though peaceful negotiations while taking into account the interests of all the parties concerned," while Russia "should build its policy while taking into account the free expression of will by the people of South Ossetia," the document emphasized.

The Georgian parliament condemned the State Duma's statement as “extremely unfriendly."

Georgian lawmakers said its aim “is to provoke the Georgian side, escalate the situation and obstruct the process of the settlement of conflicts through joint international efforts”.

“Attempts to incorporate territories of small neighbouring states and unilateral attempts to change borders from the side of Russia are absolutely incompatible with international norms and practically rule out the possibility of efficient long-term cooperation with Russia as a safe partner of the democratic society,” it stressed.

“The State Duma absolutely forgets about the fate of hundreds of thousands of refugees and forcedly displaced from conflict zones people, whose only guilt is their origin,” the Georgian lawmakers said.

“An attempt to legitimize the results of ethnic cleansing … creates a dangerous precedent for the international community and its results can turn out to be negative for Russia itself,” the document added.

Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili played down the significance of the Russian statements.

“These documents have no legal force,” he said.

The State Duma passed two statements - “On the results of the South Ossetian referendum on the issue of granting it independence and on results of the South Ossetian presidential election held on November 12, 2006,” and “On the appeal of the People’s Assembly (Abkhazia republic’s parliament) to the Russian President and Federal Assembly on the establishment of associated relations between Russia and Abkhazia.”

The Duma lawmakers put the blame for the aggravation of the situation in the region on the Georgian authorities that “for the whole preceding period have failed to begin a dialogue with the authorities and population” of these republics, failed to secure “their political, economic and social rights, security in compliance with the generally recognized principles and norms of international law,” repeatedly threatening them with the use of violence.