Mar 18, 2008

Abkhazia: Duma Develops Its Engagement Policy

Russia’s parliament, the Duma, has begun consideration of three options designed to increase cooperation between itself and Abkhazia.

Russia’s parliament, the Duma, has begun consideration of three options designed to increase cooperation between itself and Abkhazia.

Below is an article published by ITAR/TASS:

The State Duma lower house of parliament considers at the present moment three scenarios of Russia’s cooperation with Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “One of them is recognizing their independence,” the head of the Duma committee for CIS affairs, Alexei Ostrovsky, said on Monday [17 March 2008].

According to him, the second variant envisages “transition to the so-called deferred status in bilateral relations with these territories,” while the third scenario does not change the present status of the republics, but offers “to more actively develop comprehensive cooperation with them, including the opening of Russian missions”.

Besides, the last of the three scenarios envisages the right of tax-free imports in our country “of goods produced by enterprises with the share of Russian capital, operating in Abkhazia and South Ossetia”.

The committee at Russia's State Duma will issue a recommendation to the government to determine the procedure of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of de jure regions of Georgia that have been seeking independence from that country since the early 1990's, he said.

Ostrovsky said committee members have drafted a blueprint of the Duma's statement upon the results of last week's [Week 11, 2008] special hearings where the participants discussed the problems existing on the territory of the former Soviet Union.

According to Ostrovsky, the MPs will recommend the government to open all kinds of missions in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Moldova's Dniester region, which will facilitate considerably trade and economic cooperation.

Also, the committee will make a recommendation to ponder simpler border-crossing procedures for the population of the three unrecognized republics and to scrutinize a possibility of opening the affiliations of Russia's Sberbank /Savings Bank/ there.

When Ostrovsky spoke about the situation in the Dniester region, however, he said the State Duma draws a line between the Dniester problem, on the one hand, and the Abkhazian/South Ossetian problem, on the other hand.

He voiced the hope the Duma will endorse the draft statement recommending the government to begin consultations on the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence.

The MPs are expected to consider the draft statement once again at an extra-schedule meeting of the committee Wednesday, March 19 [2008], and to submit the draft for Duma's scrutiny Friday, March 21 [2008].