Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the second day of his visit to Abkhazia, proceeded to meet with representatives of the region’s authorities.
In the opening statement before his meeting with Raul Khajimba, the region’s leader, Sergey Lavrov pointed out that it was “important to look at outstanding issues” during the talks, naming “the border and property relations” as such issues.
At the press-conference after the meeting, Lavrov praised relations with Sokhumi leadership and said that he and Khajimba reaffirmed their “mutual commitment to strengthening our alliance and strategic partnership in all areas with a special focus on trade, economic and investment ties.”
Speaking about the Geneva International Discussions, the only multilateral mediation forum involving representatives from Tbilisi and Moscow, as well as Tskhinvali and Sokhumi in their individual capacities, Lavrov noted that Moscow “expects a legally binding instrument on the non-use of force to be signed in the foreseeable future.”
“This would be an important signal for the Caucasian region in general, taking into account our past experiences,” he added.
In response to the question on Sokhumi’s potential cooperation with the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, Lavrov stated that Moscow “would, of course, welcome the cooperation” but added that it would require the support of all organization members, implying the lack of such support. He also noted that Russia itself provided for Abkhazia’s security “in the most reliable way.”
“Abkhazia’s security is ensured and guaranteed by its relations with the Russian Federation as per the international treaties between the two countries, as well as specific measures undertaken by Russia in cooperation with Abkhazia’s armed forces to guarantee that the country will not be subject to external aggression ever again,” he stated.
Lavrov also spoke about the resumption of transit connection between Russia and Armenia running through Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, saying that he had discussed the issue with Khajimba.
According to Lavrov, “Russia has no problems with resuming transit.” “The legal framework is in place; it can be based on agreements reached by the Russian Federation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2011, when we joined the trade club.”
He also stated that Armenia was interested in resuming transit, and that the Abkhaz leader was not against it either, adding that the issue depended on “other countries, where these transits are heading to.”
Khajimba commented on the transit issue as well, saying that “the Abkhaz side is ready” for it, in case Georgia is as well.
Other Sokhumi authorities who Lavrov met during his visit included the region’s government head Beslan Bartsits and foreign minister Daur Kove.