Abkhazia supports free transport of goods despite unresolved Georgian-Abkhaz conflict

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Transit of goods between Abkhazia and Georgia

Abkhazia has declared its intention to remove all restrictions on transport of goods over the border with Georgia along the Ingur River [Tbilisi and most of the international community consider this an administrative border – JAMnews].

The proposal was made by a working group studying the issue of transit of goods through Abkhazia created by the presidential administration. The idea is to unilaterally remove all restrictions on the activities of the Ingur checkpoint and thus render it a full-fledged operation.

Comment

Editor of JAMnews in Abkhazia, editor of Chegemskaya Pravda, political scientist Inal Khashig

Cargo transit through the territory of Abkhazia until recently seemed impossible. With the unresolved Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, cross-border trade was hampered not only by external factors, but also by the internal political situation in Abkhazia. This was also true of Georgia.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has made serious adjustments.

In the South Caucasus, changes in the agenda had been outlined earlier, immediately after the end of the second Karabakh war in the fall of 2020. At that time, agreements were reached between Baku and Yerevan on opening transport corridors.

After February 24, confrontation between the West and Russia reached a critical point. The European Union fenced itself off from Russia with an unprecedented number of sanctions. As a result, global logistics was transformed overnight.

Such a restructuring could not but affect the South Caucasus, and Abkhazia in particular.

It is foolish to remain captive of established stereotypes when forming new transit corridors, new logistical hubs.

Abkhazia has historically been a transit corridor. But over the past thirty years we have become a dead end. All goods pass through just one route: from Abkhazia to Russia and from Russia to Abkhazia.

You will not find any revenue in the Abkhazian budget for this period from the transit of goods. While for many states transit brings substantial sums to the treasury, for Abkhazia this column contains a dash.

Now, when new logistics routes are being created, it is very stupid and irresponsible to watch the real money that Abkhazia needs so much float away.

We must also take into account the fact that Russia, due to sanctions, is actually cut off from the European Union. And Turkey is becoming one of the main transport hubs both for it and for Abkhazia.

We need to take advantage of the current situation. Transit of goods from Russia to Turkey and back has already begun by rail through Abkhazia and further on by sea from Abkhazian ports.

The railway has begun to earn good money, which has not happened since Soviet times. Seaports have begun to earn.

And this dynamic needs to be developed.

After all, there is an opportunity to make money on road transit – on trucks, on heavy vehicles. The flow of goods going through the South Caucasus has increased many times over.

With these arguments, the working group made recommendations to the president to remove the existing restrictions on the activities of the Ingur checkpoint.

This will make it possible to accept, at least unilaterally, various transit cargoes that come from Armenia and Turkey. This also applies to various goods from Georgia.

It is clear that transit will bring us not only financial dividends, but also the risks associated with the unresolved Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.

But without such transit it will be difficult for Abkhazia to develop its transport infrastructure. This applies to highways, railways, seaports and airports.

There are no consultations between the Georgian and Abkhaz authorities regarding transit. Nevertheless, if Sukhum unilaterally decides to open its border for the transit of goods, it is possible that Tbilisi will decide to reconsider the established foundations.

But before President Aslan Bzhaniya makes such a decision, the issue of lifting restrictions on the transportation of goods must be discussed in detail. And not only in the expert community, but also in society as a whole, which is very sensitive to everything connected with Georgia.

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