Abkhaz leader, Alexander Ankvab, has downplayed concerns of opposition groups in the breakaway region about Russia-Georgia WTO deal, saying that the agreement carries no risk for Sokhumi, Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported on December 7.
“Joining the World Trade Organization is important for Russia, which is our strategic ally. And what should we do in this case? Wear a sackcloth and ashes? There is no reason for that. Fears are needless here, even more so phobias. And believe me, we will not do anything that will harm Abkhazia,” Ankvab said.
He said that there were issues which required to be addressed quietly without much publicity. “We always defend Abkhazia’s interests. Maybe someone wants us to speak out loudly and noisily against something, but that would not be right. There are no risks for Abkhazia,” Ankvab said.
He said data about volume of trade between Russia and Abkhazia was publicly available and it “does not represent any strategic interest for anyone.”
“If we are concerned about the fact that on the Russian side of the border electronic seals will be attached to cargo, who said that this will also work on the Abkhaz side of the border? No one has agreed it with us. And who said that cargo will move somewhere else via [Abkhazia]? It has not been either agreed with us. No observers, who will be monitoring there [on the Russian side of the border and on the Georgian side of the administrative border with Abkhazia] can not accompany cargo on our territory. We will not allow them in and no cargo will go anywhere without agreement with us,” Ankvab said.
He said the fact that the Georgia-Russia bilateral agreement makes no mentioning of Abkhazia, defining “trade corridors” with their geographic coordinates, would not change a reality on the ground.
“Abkhazia will not stop being Abkhazia only because our country was called ‘a corridor’; our constitution and our independence have not gone anywhere. No matter whether the agreement is signed or not, our task is to ensure that no international document violates our sovereignty and infringes our independence. We will not definitely allow it to happen,” he said.
In separate report on December 7, Apsnipress quoted Ankvab saying that Abkhazia should “legalize trade with Georgia.” He said he was in favor of customs administration of trade across the border on Enguri river.
“It’s not a secret that there are a lot of fruits and vegetables in stores and markets [in Abkhazia] imported illegally across the Georgian-Abkhaz border; but the state has no income from this trade turnover,” Ankvab was quoted.