European Union diplomat was told by the Abkhaz leadership during a visit to Sokhumi, that the EU should not waste either time or money on its approach of “engagement and non-recognition” as such policy was deemed to be counterproductive by Sokhumi.
Philip Dimitrov, head of the EU delegation in Georgia, met with Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab, the breakaway region’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Chirikba and PM Leonid Lakerbaia on February 8.
“I will tell you directly,” Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab told the EU diplomat, “it is impossible to engage Abkhazians and Abkhazia into something. If Europe tries to engage us into something in exchange of our independence, I am telling you, do not waste time and I can also add: do not waste money on trips here on this issue.”
In December, 2009 EU agreed "parameters for non-recognition and engagement policy for Abkhazia and South Ossetia" aimed at carving out political and legal space within which the EU can interact with the breakaway regions without their recognition.
“You tell me, as a person who came here as a guest to the leader of Abkhazia, do I make an impression of being a person whom it is possible to ‘engage’ in something through recipes of Mr. [Temur] Yakobashvili, who now works in the U.S. as Georgia’s ambassador?” Ankvab asked the EU diplomat.
“It was his [Yakobashvili] idea to engage Abkhazia into something without recognition, which was supported by Europe,” Ankvab added.
He was referring to Georgia’s State Strategy on Occupied Territories, which was developed by Temur Yakobashvili, when he served as Georgia’s state minister for reintegration.
“One may go blind with glittering ideas of international diplomacy, but they fit less to Abkhazia. Here is a request – do not teach us how to live. We are for equal dialogue and civilized relationships,” Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported quoting Ankvab.
“We are tired of this type of diplomatic manners and are coming to an unavoidable conclusion that such relations with the European structures are meaningless; we are offering to move on to a new level of relationship,” the Abkhaz leader said.
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Ankvab also slammed Georgia’s neutral travel documents, designed for residents of its breakaway regions. “We will never use it,” Ankvab said referring to these documents.
He also said that after the armed conflict in early 1990s Sokhumi was offering Tbilisi to introduce travel documents under the UN aegis for the residents of Abkhazia, but the proposal was rejected by Tbilisi.
“Now Russia has already extended its helping hand and we no longer need any other documents,” Ankvab said.
Apsnipress reported, that EU’s approach of “engagement and non-recognition” was also criticized by breakaway region’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Chirikba, when he met with EU diplomat, Philip Dimitrov, on February 8. Chirikba said that this approach would fail to bring any tangible results because this policy by the EU was deemed by Sokhumi to be oriented towards Abkhazia’s reintegration into Georgia.
He said it was totally counterproductive to try addressing issues “behind Abkhazia’s back”, like, he said, it had happened in respect of Georgia’s neutral travel documents.
“In order to have positive results in [relations between Sokhumi and EU] first and foremost Abkhazia should be considered as an equal party into the negotiating process,” Chirikba said.