Leader of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia Vladislav Ardzinba and other Abkhaz officials are in Moscow this week for talks with the Foreign Ministry and the Duma. The talks will cover economic and political sanctions against Abkhazia that were formalized at the January 19 CIS summit. Ardzinba, Abkhaz Supreme Soviet Chairman Sokrat Jinjolia, and Abkhaz "Foreign Minister" Leonid Lakerbaya made statements rejecting the legitimacy of both the sanctions and the proposed enlargement of the mission of Russian "peacekeeping" troops in the region. It has been proposed that their mission be broadened to include repatriation of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia. The Abkhaz leaders also reaffirmed their rejection of the protocol, proposed by the Russian Foreign Ministry and accepted by the Georgian government, on settling the Abkhaz conflict through Georgia’s federalization. Abkhazia’s rejection of that protocol was a major factor behind the announced sanctions. But the Abkhaz leaders this week reaffirmed their insistence on a confederal arrangement with Georgia, saying the April 4, 1994 joint statement on political resolution of the conflict remained the valid basis for any settlement. (13)
The 1994 statement stipulated that foreign policy, foreign trade, customs, border protection, and other functions of sovereign states would constitute areas of joint Georgian-Abkhaz competence, not Georgian competence alone. In addition, Abkhazia insists on retaining its own armed forces and being recognized as a subject of international law. The Abkhaz leaders must take some heart from the fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry quickly backtracked on the announced sanctions and from the outcome of the recent Duma elections. Russian Communists and ultranationalists are sympathetic to the Abkhaz cause and propose that any decision on sanctions be subject to ratification by the Duma, which is likely to invalidate the decisions.
Tajik Government Challenged on Multiple Fronts.