Abkhazia: EU Explores Options
Below is an article published by Civil
The European Union is looking into possibilities on how breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia can benefit from EU’s Neighborhood Policy (ENP) with
EU fact-finding team, which was led by Hugues Mingarelli, the European Commission Director for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia and Peter Semneby, the EU special representative to South Caucasus, visited
The findings of the mission will be discussed in
“The purpose of this mission was to see what the EU could do more in the conflict areas for the conflict resolution and confidence building,” Per Eklund, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Georgia, said at a news conference.
EU officials said that the team will develop its recommendations on concrete measures “within the framework of existing mechanisms.”
“The purpose of the team was not to reinvent the wheel. The mission was tasked to build upon what the EU is already making on the ground in
“These all mechanisms are those that already apply to
EU officials reiterated that promoting confidence building between the conflicting sides will be a top priority of all the activities which will be undertaken in the conflict zones under the EU auspices.
“Without confidence-building you will never lead to conflict resolution issues. This is a process in which we must be patient,” Ambassador Eklund said.
EU diplomats said that all be activities will be carried out based on “the obvious fact” that the EU supports
Authorities in breakaway Abkhazia and
Foreign Minister of breakaway Abkhazia Sergey Shamba said after talks with the EU delegation on January 18 that “despite disagreements in political issues,” the Abkhaz side considers EU-funded programs “useful,” Apsnipress news agency reported.
“The European Commission is financing several projects in Abkhazia. But this does not mean that we reject our key interests and independence,” Shamba said.
He also said that Sokhumi wants to establish a dialogue and “direct links with the European Union” without the mediation of
“Abkhazia is a part of
In a statement issued on January 22 the Georgian Foreign Ministry emphasized that “the EU Assistance projects elaborated on the basis of the report of the fact-finding mission will be implemented in the conflict zones solely within the frameworks of the EU-Georgia ENP Action Plan and will be coordinated by the Government of Georgia.”
Per Eklund, Head of the European Commission Delegation to
This visit by the EU officials to
“None of the two alternatives we consider legitimate [in
“This mission [of EU] met with Mr. [Eduard] Kokoity [secessionist leader of
He also declined to comment on details of discussions the EU has over the issue with the Georgian authorities.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in its statement on January 22 that Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili’s January 19 meeting with the EU officials was attended by head of the Abkhaz government-in-exile Malkhaz Akishbaia and with other governmental officials.