Aug 25, 2008

Abkhazia: Russian MPs Back Abkhazia’s Wish for Independence

Active ImageRussia's upper house of parliament has urged the president to recognise the independence of Georgia's regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


Below is an article published by BBC News:

The vote on the issue in the Federation Council is due to be followed shortly in the lower house - the State Duma.
The vote is not binding on the Kremlin, but could provide President Dmitry Medvedev with bargaining chips in talks with the West, analysts say.

Russia fought a brief war with Georgia this month over South Ossetia.

Both it and the much larger province of Abkhazia have had de facto independence since breaking away in the early 1990s.
While they have enjoyed Russian economic and diplomatic support, and military protection, no foreign state has recognised them as independent states.

Since the fighting over South Ossetia ended nearly two weeks ago with the ejection of Georgian forces from both provinces, the Russian military has established controversial buffer zones along their administrative borders with Georgia proper.
Independence rallies

The Federation Council voted 130-0 to call on President Medvedev to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after a brief debate on the issue at its extraordinary session.

The house speaker, Sergei Mironov, said the two regions had all the necessary attributes of independent states.
Both Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh and his South Ossetian counterpart, Eduard Kokoity, addressed the Russian lawmakers, urging them to recognise the independence of the two regions.

"It's a historic day for Abkhazia... and South Ossetia," Mr Bagapsh said, adding that Abkhazia would never again be part of Georgia.

Mr Kokoity thanked Russia for supporting South Ossetia during the conflict with Georgia, describing President Medvedev's move to deploy troops as "a courageous, timely and correct" decision.

He said that South Ossetia and Abkhazia had more rights to become recognised nations than Kosovo that declared independence from Serbia earlier this year with support from the United States and much of the European Union.

Both houses of the Russian parliament are dominated by allies of President Medvedev and his Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.
The leadership of the pro-Kremlin United Party - which has the majority in the lower house, the Duma - had already backed the draft appeal to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the chairman of the lower house's influential international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, said.

Russia's lawmakers interrupted their summer holidays for extraordinary sittings, formally called at the request of  […] leaders in the two Georgian provinces.

Thousands of people attended pro-independence rallies in the Abkhaz capital Sukhumi and war-ravaged South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali on Thursday [21 August 2008]

Kosovo or North Cyprus?

While both provinces have been pushing for formal independence since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russia's official line at least until now have been similar to that of the West, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley reports from Moscow.

But in March [2008] the State Duma passed a resolution supporting independence should Georgia invade or rush to join Nato.

If both houses of Russia's parliament back Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence, the bill would be sent to the Kremlin for approval.

Analysts say the Kremlin might delay its decision while it carries out wider negotiations with the West on the crisis, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley in Moscow reports.

If it backs the move, the two regions could apply to the United Nations for recognition, which would almost certainly be vetoed in the Security Council.

They could also ask for support from Russia's allies from as far afield as Venezuela and Cuba, our correspondent notes.
Analysts say the two new aspirant nations could end up like Kosovo and be accepted by a substantial number of governments.

Alternatively, they could, like the case of northern Cyprus and Turkey, become largely isolated and recognised only by Russia.

Much of it would depend on the measure of Russia's international influence, our correspondent adds.