TBILISI, DFWatch–A proposed new comprehensive agreement between Russia and Abkhazia has triggered a quarrel between two veterans of the Georgian diplomacy who both belong to the ruling Georgian Dream coalition.
The text of the draft proposes ‘a common space of defense and security’ between the two asymmetric partners. This has caused controversy in the Georgian political establishment.
Tedo Japaridze, former minister of foreign affairs and former ambassador to the US, said in parliament on Tuesday that it is not wise for Georgia to participate in the so-called Abashidze-Karasin talks, which is a series of talks between one Russian and one Georgian diplomat, aimed at improving relations mainly in terms of trade.
Georgia is represented by the prime minister’s special envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russia by Grigory Karasin, deputy minister of foreign affairs.
“In such circumstances the next round (of Georgian-Russian negotiation) shouldn’t been held… I would advise my colleagues to refrain from participating,” Japaridze said in parliament, calling the text of the draft agreement ‘shameless.’
Abashidze, a former deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to Russia, immediately lashed back.
“If my old friend, Tedo Japaridze, had called me, I would tell him why I’m going to the meeting and for which purposes. It appears, his brakes failed,” Abashidze said scathingly asked by journalists to comment on his colleague’s statement.
He went on saying that Mr Japaridze’s statement might have been attributed to his old age. Japaridze is 68, while Abashidze is 63 years old.
This kind of language was surprising coming from a career diplomat who is known for his subtlety.
The next round of Abashidze-Karasin talks is scheduled for October 16 in Prague.
The text of the draft agreement between Russia and Abkhazia, called “Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia over Alliance and Integration”, caused an uneasy reaction even in Abkhazia. Some Abkhaz politicians and activists, as well as journalists and bloggers see it as losing independence. Some of them go further, doubting that the recent deposing of former de facto president Alexander Ankvab, and his replacement with Raul Khajimba, who is more loyal to the Kremlin, was caused by Ankvab’s refusal to sign such an agreement.
Almost half of the text of the draft is about defense and security.
Actually, the agreement proposes establishing a common defense area between Russia and Abkhazia.
Article 3 of the agreement says: “The main areas of cooperation, integration and partnership are: coordinated foreign policy; establishment of a common space of defense and security; formation of a common economic and social space; conservation of a common cultural and humanitarian space.”
Article 5 stipulates the ‘establishment of a common defense infrastructure’; ‘establishment of the Joint Group of Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Abkhazia to repel aggression (armed attack) in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, and formation of command of the joint group’ and ‘joint actions for the protection of the state border of the Republic of Abkhazia.’
Article 6 states: “If one of the Contracting Parties shall be subjected to aggression (armed attack) by any state or group of states, then it will be considered as aggression (armed attack) as against the other Contracting Party.”
“In the case of an act of aggression (armed attack) against one of the Contracting Parties, the other Contracting Party shall provide necessary assistance, including military support.”
In the draft agreement Russia also takes responsibility for doing everything possible to strengthen Abkhazia’s international relations. This means getting more countries to recognize the breakaway region as an independent state and ‘to create the prerequisites for its entry into international organizations and associations.’
The draft includes the creation of a common economic and customs area, and articles about cooperation in the spheres of social security, healthcare and education, approximation in all those spheres, including pensions and wages.