Abkhazia in the context of the Armenia-Azerbaijani war escalation. Discussion in Abkhazia.

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Inal Ardzinba tour in Abkhazia

The scandalous behavior of the Abkhazian Foreign Minister, relations with Russia, what ideas from the first Abkhazian President Vladislav Ardzinba are still relevant today, and another round of tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, are the main topics of the new episode of “Conversation”.

Editor of the newspaper Chegemskaya Pravda and editor of JAMnews Inal Khashig, and Abkhazian historian and political scientist Astamur Tania, start the conversation with discussion of the latest tour of the regions of Abkhazia by Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba.

The minister accused those protesting against the adoption of the law on apartments, including Abkhazian intelligentsia, of incompetence, called a well-known politician an idiot, “accused” Abaza-TV journalist of bias, and on top of this openly hinted that if the law on apartments is not adopted, Russia will turn away from Abkhazia, and Georgia will take advantage of this and unleash war against Abkhazia.

About public activity

It is good that our society allows for such behavior, as it illustrates that there is no one to stand up for our state or its interests except our active society. Those who should fulfill these functions are busy with other issues.  There is a steady process of delegitimization of our authorities. The public policy pursued by our authorities, to put it mildly, does not fit into standards. Abkhazians have their own political culture. It was formed for many years, honed during the period of national liberation movement. The public policy of the authorities does not fit into this mold, and accordingly is accompanied by great reputational losses.

Economy or culture

Ardzinba mentioned our writers, intellectuals, that they are not specialists in economics and therefore incompetent. If we follow this logic, then the President and Prime Minister, being lawyers, are incompetent. The same applies to the Secretary of the Security Council Shamba, he is a historian.  Vladislav Ardzinba was also a historian by the way.  Now they like to quote him as they used to quote Lenin, but then quote other words of his — about oil production, for example.  When the question of whether to produce oil or not came up, no one from the authorities quoted Ardzinba, who at one time was against it.

Our national face, thanks to which we are a nation, was formed first of all by humanitarians – writers, poets, composers, journalists. Mathematics and physics are the same everywhere, whether in England or Abkhazia. What distinguishes us from others, because of which we have some value for ourselves and the world around us, is our culture. Realization of our commonality, our interests was brought by this intelligentsia.  So, I would not dismiss our writers, our scientists from the Abkhazian Institute for Humanitarian Studies (Abkhazian Institute for Humanitarian Research). By the way, Abigi was the center of our national liberation movement. And if now Inal Ardzinba is quoting Vladislav Ardzinba, then he should know that he once headed this institute and later headed our state.

About the Pitsunda estate

The current government initially had a short-term limit of trust.   They spent the first six months forming the government, then they got involved in issues that were hardly done on the basis of national interests. For example, the issue of crypto-mining, its legalization, and then its further prohibition.

Then the authorities said that the need to transfer the Pitsunda estate into the ownership of Russia is a strategic issue in Abkhazian-Russian relations. The issue of Pitsunda is strategic for us, but not for Russia. What difference does it make for it on what terms it will be on? This issue is not absolutely not strategic for Russia. Abkhazia is a neighboring state, it is in the ruble zone, there are Russian border guards here, there is a Russian military base here on a gratuitous basis. Russia is looking for an opportunity to gain a foothold in the Middle East and Africa, and its strategic interest in Abkhazia appears to be in this estate.

About anti-Russian element

The authorities apparently realize that they are losing support in society and apparently want to present themselves as the only supporters of Russia in Abkhazia.   By dragging Russia into internal political discourse, the authorities themselves create tension. Before them everything was smooth in this regard. … We have mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia and this is much stronger than love.

Such propaganda can create a problem where there was none. Why look for internal enemies in your own people to justify your own inability to solve problems? All those who are against the apartments are anti-Russian elements, all those who are against the transfer of the Pitsunda estate to Russia are CIA agents.  With such methods the authorities may find themselves surrounded by only enemies.

In reality Russia wants to have relations with those authorities of Abkhazia that really represent the interests of its people. This is the most stable relationship.

When you quote Ardzinba’s words and take him as a witness, it should not be about following the letter, but the spirit of what was said.  And the spirit of Vladislav Ardzinba’s policy was to protect our state and preserve our people.

Economically it may be cost-effective for Abkhazians not to live here at all.This was the case in the 19th century.  There were defined areas where Abkhazians could live and where they couldn’t. Where they couldn’t, commodity production was developed. For this purpose Estonians, Greeks, Armenians, Russians, Georgians were brought to Abkhazia… Abkhazians were not good for capitalism.  They were of little use in this regard.

And if we proceed only from economic profitability, maybe we should evict Abkhazians and bring here, for example, Germans and French.  And if we take this idea further, we can take specialists from abroad and replace our incompetent leaders with them.

About Vladislav Ardzinba’s quote about associated relations with Russia, cited by the Minister

I took this paper to the Kremlin in 2002, at that time Surkov was Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration.  This model did not arouse special interest in Moscow at that time. At that time Russia was aimed at creating some kind of federative relations between Abkhazia and Georgia.

Associative relations are relations between two independent states – big and small, when a small independent state voluntarily gives part of its functions to a much larger state.  There is the example of Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, which are associated with the USA. Yet these countries remained independent states. They entered into an agreement and could revoke it.  The US exercised these functions because these countries are located in their zone of strategic interest.

If you read the points of the letter that Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba quoted, in general this agenda has been fulfilled. Moscow has recognized Abkhazia, there is a Russian military base here, we are in the ruble zone. In fact, this is a model of patronage of a big state over a small one. The agenda that the Minister is talking about has already been implemented.

How did the idea of associated relations come about? We started with the fact that at the beginning of the war on September 3, 1992 we signed a document in Moscow where we recognized the territorial integrity of Georgia. Then, after our victories at the front on July 27th, 1993 we signed a completely different in spirit document that spoke about guarantees of statehood of Abkhazia and it became a party to the conflict. We signed in the column “Agreed”, and the parties at that time were Russia and Georgia. In the second, thanks to the military and diplomatic successes of our state, the situation radically changed – we became a party to the conflict.  On September 3 it seemed to be a hopeless situation. Now it is not so, but it is necessary to use the opportunities, which our authorities are not doing.

Then there was a statement of April 4, 1994 on measures to settle the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. It was about mutual delegation of powers. And it was supposed to create a union state with supranational bodies. In those years various options were discussed – creation of a common state, union state, confederation, etc.   Then Georgians abandoned this.  And in 1999 we adopted the Act of State Independence and declared that we are no longer negotiating about our status.

And it was after that that the idea of associated relations emerged.

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