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“If the European Union wants to be involved in peacekeeping and economic processes on the Southern Caucasus, as it has repeatedly declared, it should develop working, pragmatic relations with Abkhazia”, an expert, the Abkhaz President’s advisor for foreign affairs Vyacheslav Chirikba believes. Speaking on Tuesday July 14 in Sukhum at “the European Union Expansion: policy and processes" round table, organized by the European Union Institute for Security (Paris) in cooperation with the Center for Humanitarian Programs (Sukhum), he said: ‘At the moment the relations between Abkhazia and the EU go through the period of considerable coolness. Such development could have been avoided, should the European Union have a neutral, more unbiased and pragmatic position”.



Abkhazia and the European Union: current problems and prospects of mutual relations



Both from the geographical and the political point of view the Republic of Abkhazia is a part of the European space, a part of Europe. Having gone through a devastating war with Georgia, blockade from the part of the CIS countries, Abkhazia proceeds along the path of building an independent democratic state. Despite difficulties and contradictions, any unbiased observer can hardly say that Abkhazia has not become a state. Abkhazia is a rather stable political system, and experts assess its economic potential rather high. In the presence of investments, and they have already started to come to the republic though the crisis has slowed down a little this process, Abkhazia will become again an economically prosperous country in the near future.



Nevertheless, especially recently, Abkhazia has faced considerable problems from the point of view of interaction with the largest and the most important international organizations. Thus, the UN Mission in Abkhazia withdrawal because of rigid ideologisized position taken by some Security Council’s members though compromise wordings which would suit all the parties were offered, in particular, by Russia was a serious disappointment.



In some circles in the West there was hope that the again formed European Union’s Mission can replace the United Nations Mission. However this has not happened. What is the reason of the present fiasco of the European Union in Abkhazia?



Initially the European Union seemed to have good prospects in Abkhazia. During Javier Solana’s visit to Abkhazia in June, 2008 the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union said that the European Union wants “to be deeper involved” in the Abkhaz conflict settlement. At the joint press conference with the President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh after their meeting, Solana said that he had had "a very interesting" and "deep" talks with the authorities of Abkhazia and thanked Bagapsh, calling him "president", ‘for understanding”. ‘We would like to help”, Solana said. “…You know there are already formats for this purpose. Anyway, we are ready to be more involved, we are here already … but we still want more involvement. Together we can move this process forward.”



From his part President Bagapsh when meeting with European politicians, spoke about the common European house where Abkhazia sees itself as a full participant.



One of the main consequences of the August war in South Ossetia was the recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia. It astonishes that the European Union countries which shortly before, in February, 2008, recognized Kosovo as a separate state which has separated from Serbia as a result of the NATO bombings reacted so negatively to the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia. Especially sharp criticism of Russia was heard from the lips of the Heads of the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Poland, Albania as well as Sweden, Great Britain and the USA. Only Switzerland from the European countries reacted to the recognition of independence of the two Transcaucasia countries evenly and without hysterics.



The European Union’s reaction to the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is thus distinctive. On September 1, 2008 the Summit of the States and Governments heads of the EU member states adopted the statement which, in particular, says: “the EU Summit has rigidly condemned the unilateral recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia. This decision is unacceptable; we call other countries not to recognize this self-proclaimed independence …”



By the way, this statement contains, at least, two legal lapses: any recognition is unilateral when one state decides to recognize another state. Besides, any independent country is self-proclaimed – the country itself proclaims its independence not someone else. These legal lapses, by the way, show that the European Union simply has no true, real arguments against Russian recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Javier Solana also made a statement that the European Union would never recognize independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.



Besides the statements, the European Union leaders started concrete steps aimed at non-admission of the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by other countries. Thus, during a meeting in Minsk on February 19, 2009, according to the Reuters agency, Solana warned the Belarus President against the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Belarus. The same February the Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg as the Czech Republic chaired the European Union then, warned Minsk that if it recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states it would lose participation in the Eastern Partnership program launched by the European Union.



Earlier, in September, 2008, the European Union called Kazakhstan not to recognize independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. According to the press release following the results of the tenth session of the Kazakhstan-EU Cooperation Council, “the European Union induces Kazakhstan not to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia according to international principles”.



Now the European Union countries have started what can be called “visa war against Abkhazia”. For the possessors of Russian passports for travel abroad living in Abkhazia, it became extremely difficult to receive visas to some EU countries. The reason for refusal is either not given, or recommendations to receive the visa in the Embassy in Tbilisi is made. By the way, an official of Peter Semnebi’s office asked for concrete examples of refusals at our meeting. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia prepared information and sent it to the office. However after that literally the other day a group of Abkhaz children was refused visas to Germany.



All these facts testify that the European Union strives for isolation of Abkhazia on the international scene.



All this, of course, has created extremely negative background for mutual relations of Abkhazia and the European Union. Though originally cooperation with the European Union has been seriously considered by the Abkhaz leadership, however unfriendly policy and concrete EU actions led to the fact that Abkhazia began to consider the European Union as a party of the conflict in sympathy with Georgia. For this reason, in particular, all the EU attempts to conduct monitoring in Abkhazia failed.



I would like to emphasize that the current sharply negative position regarding Abkhazia taken by the EU leadership, is rather emotional than rational, and sharp speeches of the Governments of those European Union countries which have recently recognized independence of the Serbian province Kosovo, are a vivid evidence of double standards policy.



If the European Union treated the problem of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict impartially it would become clear to its representatives that, as a matter of fact, we deal with collapse of the former state the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and formation of three new states – Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia on its basis. As well as in the case with collapse of Yugoslavia, the European Union should have sent a commission like Yogoslav Badinter’s commission which, undoubtedly, would ascertain that the former state which has been stuck together by Stalin from Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, disintegrated, and that this corpse could not be reanimated.



Why didn’t even, rational, unbiased approach to the problem of Abkhazia and Georgia triumph over? In my opinion, there is a number of reasons here:



1. Extremely negative reaction of many European Governments to independent steps of Russia on the international scene in juridical recognition of the two in fact independent states what they perceived as "Russian expansion”. Though, it is necessary to stress that in view of expansion of, so to speak, not quite friendly to Russia the NATO military block to the Southern Caucasus, such steps from the part of Russia were easy to be foreseen.


2. General weak knowledge of the Governments of the European Union of historical roots of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.


3. Unwillingness of the European Union to consider the complicated question about the right of the nations to self-determination. This explains an emphasis on "uniqueness" of the Kosovo legal case what, by the way, is not accepted by a number of serious experts in the field of international law.


4. Extremely effective Antiabkhaz Georgian propaganda campaign to which, unfortunately, Abkhazia opposes almost nothing. The result of this serious Abkhaz information gap is clearly seen, in particular, in the attitude of the European Union countries as well as many other countries of the world to Abkhazia.



What do we have as a result? Unfortunately, it is necessary to ascertain that at the moment the relation between Abkhazia and EU go through the period of considerable coolness. Such development could have been avoided, should the European Union have a neutral, more unbiased and pragmatic position. I am sure that it will end in several years, and Abkhazia as a European state, will come to a new stage of cooperation with the European Union. But while the European Union should do the homework –to study thoroughly the roots and features of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict and to develop rational, ideology and emotions-free policy with regards to Abkhazia. I am far from thinking that it can lead to a near diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia by the EU countries. However, if the European Union wants to be involved in peacekeeping and economic processes on the Southern Caucasus, as it has repeatedly declared, it should develop working, pragmatic relations with Abkhazia, like those that have developed earlier between Abkhazia and the United Nations what assumes, in particular, giving up the policy of isolation of Abkhazia which has absolutely no prospects, what has been proved by the long-term blockade of Abkhazia from the part of the CIS countries.



The Geneva consultations which are actually held under the aegis of the European Union where a delegation of Abkhazia is present on equal terms with other participants can be considered as the first positive experience of such pragmatic approach from the part of the European Union. Representatives of the European Union also participate in the pentalateral mechanism on incidents prevention.



Taking into account these first, positive steps and processes, I would like to express confidence that sooner or later we will witness a more constructive period in so far short history of mutual relations of the Republic Abkhazia and the European Union.



Vyacheslav Chirikba


abkhaziagov.org


Abkhazia and the European Union: prospects of mutual relations


Abkhazia (wikimedia.org)


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Опубликовал administrator, 17-07-2009, 21:04. Просмотров: 918
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