May 31, 2008

Abkhazia: A ‘Kosova’ Solution on the Horizon?

Sample ImageThe European Union (EU) may look to engage with Russia and Georgia in an attempt to resolve disputes over Abkhazia, with the possibility that a solution could follow Kosova’s example.

Below is a article released by Gazeta and published by RIA Novosti:

Ambassadors from 15 countries of the European Union will come to Sukhumi, capital of breakaway republic Abkhazia, on Friday [30 May 2008] to discuss means of resuming Abkhazian-Georgian dialogue.

However, the diplomats' main goal will be to lure Abkhazia away from Russia's influence. Analysts say Georgia, which is eager to join NATO, will have to make major concessions to the breakaway republic.

Igor Akhba, Abkhazia's representative in Moscow, said: "The EU diplomats want to push Russia away from the negotiations, although Russia is successfully fulfilling its tasks, above all peacekeeping ones."

The three-way talks between Abkhazia, Georgia and Russia are proceeding under the auspices of the UN Coordinating Council in Geneva. "We think it would be inefficient to change the format," Akhba said.

Alexei Malashenko, a researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the EU diplomats would be unable to immediately split Abkhazia from Russia.

"However, this is a serious move showing that the EU is beginning talks with Abkhazia," Malashenko said.

"The triangle may become a square. If Europe acts maximally energetically, Georgia, which is eager to join NATO, will have to make major concessions to Abkhazia."

Malashenko admits that Abkhazia may accept some of the EU's proposals.

"Abkhazia will have quite a few issues to consider, unless it wants the world to see it as merely a Russian protectorate," the expert said. "The EU could tempt Abkhazia with the Kosovo scenario, which promises territorial autonomy under the EU protection, if not full independence. This scenario is quite probable, but in this case Abkhazia will have to cede the Gali District or turn it into an autonomous district within the republic."

"In any case, the EU has apparently decided to deal with Abkhazia, and Georgia is coming to see that it will have to part with the breakaway republic," Malashenko said. "It no longer can stamp its feet and shout 'No independence'."