Raul Khajimba, who has become new leader of breakaway Abkhazia, expressed hope that a new comprehensive cooperation treaty with Russia, providing security guarantees “more clearly”, would be prepared before the end of this year.
“Every treaty needs to be revised after some time taking into consideration new realities and this time has come now,” Khajimba said in an interview with the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.
“New document should take into consideration those difficulties which Abkhazia and Russia now face on the international arena and which exist in relationship with Georgia, Europe and the United States,” he said.
“It’s an important component for us. We want our security guarantees to be specified more clearly. Issues related with borders, socio-economic development of Abkhazia will be touched upon in the new treaty as well,” he said.
Khajimba said that establishing joint command of Abkhaz forces and Russian military base in Abkhazia might be one of the elements.
“Creation of collective armed forces is a normal process and we see in this possibility for resolving the issue related to security problem,” Khajimba said. “We have our own armed forces; there is Russian military base [in Abkhazia]. Appropriate efforts are needed for coordination between them based on joint command.”
“We have been voicing such kind of possible solutions and I think that Russia will not be against,” Khajimba said.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Russian-language Ekho Kavkaza few days before the August 24 presidential election in the breakaway region, Russian ambassador to Abkhazia, Semyon Grigoriev, said that “new level” of relationship between Moscow and Sokhumi “is quite possible”, but there had not yet been any “formal negotiations” on this issue.
“Some parameters, which may be considered for new level of Russian-Abkhaz relations, have already been voiced in statements of presidential candidates – these are common defense space; closer cooperation in spreading Russian social standards on Abkhazia, and liberalization of regime of [movement] across the Russian-Abkhaz border. But these are all at the level of pre-election slogans. It remains to be seen what the actual result will be,” the Russian diplomat said.
On military cooperation he said: “Yes, some kind of joint command is possible. But I want to repeat that there have not been any practical talks on this issue yet. We have quite a solid legal framework, including agreement on military cooperation and agreement on the Russian military base.”
On liberalization of border crossing procedures on Psou river between Russia and Abkhazia, Grigoriev said that this issue was raised by the Abkhaz politicians at the level of pre-election slogans.
“State border regime – that’s very complicated issue,” the Russian diplomat said, adding that personally he would like to see this border control completely removed. “But this is very difficult issue.”