Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba will sign on November 24 in Sochi treaty on “alliance and strategic partnership”.
Bilateral relations and cooperation in regional security will also be discussed during the meeting between Putin and Khajimba in Sochi, the Kremlin said on Sunday.
In an interview with the Abkhaz television, Khajimba said that the treaty, which will be signed on November 24, is fully in line with the Abkhaz constitution and its signing is “a right thing from the historical perspective as well.”
Khajimba said that under the treaty Russia takes commitment to help Abkhazia, among other issues, through funding salaries of Abkhaz army servicemen, as well as of employees of state agencies and through increasing salaries and pensions at the level of those existing in the southern regions of Russia, because Abkhazia “is committed to its alliance with Russia.”
If not Abkhazia, Khajimba said, “NATO troops would have already been standing on Russia’s southern borders.”
“We have protected ourselves and at the same time protected interests of Russia as well,” Khajimba said.
Although Russia-proposed initial draft of the treaty, which was criticized in Sokhumi, has been revised, concerns about the final draft, which will be signed on November 24, still remain in part of the Abkhaz society. Council of Public Chamber of Abkhazia said on November 21 that despite changes, the final text still contains some provisions, which “may have undesirable consequences for the sovereignty” of Abkhazia. Sokhumi-based think-tank, Ainar, spoke out against signing of the revised draft and called on the authorities to negotiate with Russia a treaty, which would “rule out threats for the Abkhaz statehood.”
Opposition political party, Amtsakhara, plans to hold a rally in Sokhumi on November 24. A parallel rally in support of signing the new treaty with Russia has been scheduled on the same day by a group of political parties and movements, which ousted previous Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab, and which backs incumbent Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba.
“I think holding of the rally against signing of this treaty is not only irresponsible and short-sightedness, but also wrong from the moral point of view,” Khajimba said in the interview with the Abkhaz television.
“I am sure we will be able to solve our internal controversies ourselves, but there is no need to reflect these [controversies] on our relations with Russia,” he said. “The treaty does not infringe our sovereignty; on the contrary, it rectifies previous mistakes.”
“I can understand when the criticism is voiced in address of the [Abkhaz] authorities, even though they might be groundless, but I think insulting attacks on Russia and its authorities are extremely damaging,” Khajimba said.
Khajimba said that as a result of public discussions in Abkhazia it was possible to revise initial, Russia-proposed draft and the final text, he said, “is radically different” from its initial version.
He said that by supporting the Abkhaz-proposed draft, Russia has “once again demonstrated its confidence in and respect towards the Abkhaz people.”
“They showed understanding towards the concerns of our society,” Khajimba said.
He said that “these fears have historical reasons” originating from the Soviet times, when “downgrading of the Abkhaz sovereignty was taking place.”
“I want to stress that signing of this treaty is taking place against the background of serious foreign policy problems, which Russia is now encountering,” the Abkhaz leader said. “There is a serious external pressure on [Russia], sanctions are being imposed, a real information war is carried out.”
“Only Russia supported us when we had a hard time,” Khajimba continued. “Now reliability towards our traditional ally, Russia, is being tested. We should keep in mind that it is called the treaty on alliance and strategic partnership.”