Georgia’s claims that new treaty on alliance and integration between Moscow and Sokhumi would amount to annexation of Abkhazia, represent “unscrupulous and dangerous speculation”, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
It said that the issue was discussed when deputy foreign minister and Russian chief negotiator in the Geneva international discussions, Grigory Karasin, spoke by phone on October 20 with EU’s special representative for South Caucasus Herbert Salber, who along with representatives from the UN and OSCE, is a co-chair of the Geneva talks.
Tbilisi says that Moscow-proposed new treaty with breakaway Abkhazia is a “step towards annexation” of this region by Russia and, if signed, it would seriously damage bilateral informal dialogue between Georgia and Russia, as well as Geneva talks, which were launched after the August, 2008 war.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Karasin told the EU diplomat that Russia’s relations with Abkhazia are developing based on 2008 comprehensive bilateral cooperation treaty; he also said that Moscow and Sokhumi deemed necessary to “update” legal framework of bilateral cooperation based on principles of “equality and mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs.”
“Georgia’s assumption about alleged ‘annexation’ of Abkhazia is unscrupulous and dangerous speculation, which can seriously mar atmosphere of the Geneva discussions. Karasin expressed hope that the EU and other co-chairs of the discussions… will make effort to prevent such a development,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Russia “attaches great importance” to continuation of the Geneva talks.
Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Zalkaliani, who is Georgia’s chief negotiator in the Geneva talks, and PM’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, met on October 20 with Tbilisi-based foreign diplomats to convey Georgia’s concerns over Moscow-proposed new treaty with Abkhazia.
“We share those concerns,” U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, said after the meeting. “I think, as a participant in the Geneva international discussions, the United States, of course, is concerned about the possible implications of this agreement for the Geneva format and for those discussions, and our bottom line is we support and continue to support Georgia’s independence, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”