Jun 18, 2008

Abkhazia: Abkhaz Leader to Visit Jordan

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In a bid to expand its diplomatic relations, foreign Minister Sergei Bagapsh is set to meet with Jordan officials.

Below is an article written by Hasan Kanbolat published by Today’s Zaman:

The winds of independence blowing from Kosovo to the Black Sea seem to have urged Abkhazia, […] to action. 

While there is a tendency to present Kosovo as a "particular example," the South Caucasus started to model itself after this example after Kosovo declared independence on Feb. 17, 2008. 

Abkhazia has been improving its diplomatic relations with states whose independence is not recognized by the United Nations, including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC). Within this context, the first visit to the KKTC was made by Abkhazian Deputy Foreign Minister Maxim Gunjia on Jan. 5-8, 2008, which served as the starting point for official relations between the KKTC and Abkhazia. What Sokhumi is trying to do is to open a representation office in the KKTC, and, following the visit to the KKTC, to establish diplomatic relations with the de facto independent states, including Somaliland, which is located within the borders Somalia and which declared its independence in 1991. 

The number of visits from Abkhazia to Turkey has been increasing. Sokrat Djindjolia, former Abkhaz parliament speaker and current president of the Abkhazia branch of the Caucasian Institute for Democracy, Associate Professor Guram Gumba, the head of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Abkhaz parliament, and Talih Hvatish, the deputy chairman of the Economic Relations Commission of the Abkhaz parliament, visited Turkey in April [2008]. Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba visited Turkey on June 2-6 [2008. Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh had planned to come to Turkey between April 15 and 21, 2007, in order to discuss the new period and future of Abkhazia and improve cooperation in political, social and economic areas, but had to postpone the visit to the fall of 2007 due to health problems. At the time, it had been suggested that the main purpose of this visit was to have a secret meeting between Bagapsh and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and it was considered very important for that reason. The unofficial visit by Bagapsh to Turkey planned for Oct. 17-24, 2007 had been postponed for a second time due to the escalating tensions and presidential elections in Georgia and upon the request of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli. 

Abkhazia seeks to ensure that the embargoes imposed by Georgia concerning marine and air transportation and trade are lowered to humanitarian levels. Abkhazia wants to see change and have its identity recognized. The Abkhaz overture for improving relations with Turkey, with which it has historical, cultural and kinship ties, is important in that it will shape the relations between the two countries in the future. Indeed, the World Abkhaz Peoples' Union, a powerful organization with influence over the Abkhaz government and people, met on June 11, 2005 in Turkey (Hendek district of Sakarya), and this shows that Abkhazia is determined to improve political, social and economic ties with Turkey. 

In the summer of 2008, Bagapsh is expected to make an unofficial visit to Jordan. The Jordan visit, following the aborted Turkey visits by Bagapsh, will be considerably important for the foreign policy moves of Abkhazia. The fact that there is a powerful diaspora of people from the North Caucasus that wields influence in Amman's politics and geography, and that Bagapsh's visit was accepted by Jordan despite its close and good relations with the US, is sufficient to show the importance and multiple dimensions of this visit. Analysts are now waiting anxiously to see what Tbilisi will do in the face of Bagapsh's visit to Jordan.