Breakaway Abkhazia’s foreign ministry condemned seizures of cargo vessels en route between Abkhazia and Turkey by the Georgian coast guard and said these “aggressive actions” would destabilize situation in the region.
The breakaway region’s foreign ministry said that three Turkish cargo vessels were detained by the Georgian coast guard over the past six months; the most recent case was reported last week.
The Georgian coast guard detained cargo vessel, Pasha, flying the Tanzanian flag, on July 10; the vessel was en route from Abkhaz town of Ochamchire to Turkish Black Sea port of Bartin, according to the Abkhaz side.
The vessel with ten crew members onboard – four Turkish, four Egyptian and two Syrian citizens, was detained for “violating rules of entry to the occupied territory”, the Georgian border guard police said in a statement.
City Court in Poti ordered on July 11 release of captain of the vessel, who is a Turkish citizen, on GEL 50,000 bail.
Georgia’s law on occupied territories bans economic activities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without Tbilisi’s authorization.
Two previous cases of detention of cargo vessels en route between Abkhazia and Turkey this year occurred in March and May, according to the breakaway region’s foreign ministry.
The last time when maritime incidents were stoking tensions between Tbilisi and Sokhumi was in 2009, when four cargo ships en-route to or from Abkhazia were detained by the Georgian coast guard.
“Previously Georgia was carrying out pirate-type of seizures of Turkish cargo ships en route to Abkhazia; however, after vigorous protests by Turkey, seizures of vessels had stopped for some time,” the Abkhaz foreign ministry said in a statement on July 16.
“Now we have to state about the resumption of Georgia’s pirate actions in the neutral waters of the Black Sea. These aggressive actions, aimed at exerting political and economic pressure on Abkhazia, are directed towards destabilizing situation in the region,” it said.