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Shamba to EU Diplomat: 'Abkhazia Reliable Partner'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 13 Mar.'10 / 01:44

Sokhumi spares no effort to affirm that there is no reason to make Abkhazia an "outcast from the European community," Sergey Shamba, the breakaway region's PM, said on March 12, according to the Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress.

Shamba, who before becoming PM last month served as foreign minister for twelve years, met with visiting EU Special Representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, in Sokhumi.

According to Apsnipress, the European diplomat informed Shamba about EU's proposals on engagement with Sokhumi.

According to a recent report on Abkhazia by Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group (ICG), in December, 2009 EUís Political and Security Committee agreed a "non-paper on the parameters for EUís non-recognition and engagement policy for Abkhazia and South Ossetia" aimed at carving out political and legal space within which the EU can interact with the breakaway regions ďwithout crossing status red lines, thus emphasising a strategic interest to engage so as to increase its leverage to move conflict resolution forward.Ē

During the meeting Shamba complained that EU-member states were refusing to grant entry visas to residents of Abkhazia, which he said was "politically-motivated decision".

Without resolving this problem, Shamba said, EU's engagement efforts would have no sense.

"If we are talking about development of relations, it should be a two-way street - like you are visiting us, we also should be able to visit you. We should have direct contacts; otherwise it will be a support to so called Iakobashvili's plan," Apsnipress quoted Shamba as saying, referring to the Georgian government's strategy on occuped territories, elaborated under the coordination of State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili.

"We'll do our utmost to make Europe understand that Abkhazia is reliable, as well as a partner and a neighbor with European standards," he said.

"Unlike Georgia, which is regarded in Europe to be democratic state, we have stable government and power transition take place through democratic process," Shamba said.

He was also quoted as saying that Abkhazia "has independent and opposition press... and unlike Georgia, Abkhazia has not a single political prisoner." Shamba also added that there was no reason for Europe "to further ignore" Abkhazia.

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