Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba’s office said on Wednesday that Viacheslav Chirikba “was not re-appointed” as foreign minister after change of the PM because of his refusal to travel to Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria out of fear of being deported by the Moldovan authorities.
Chirikba said in a brief written statement late on Tuesday evening without specifying that he did not see any possibility of staying at the position “in the existing circumstances” and expressed hope that Abkhazia’s “foreign political course will remain unchanged.”
Chirikba’s announcement came about seven weeks after Abkhaz leader, Raul Khajimba, appointed chief of his administration and former head of Gagra district, Beslan Bartsits, as new Prime Minister of the breakaway region, replacing Artur Mikvabia.
Bartsits, who was appointed as PM on August 5, has since then re-appointed most of the incumbent cabinet members; Chirikba formally was an acting foreign minister since the appointment of the new PM.
“The main reason why he [Chirikba] was not re-appointed is his refusal to lead the Abkhaz delegation, traveling to the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic on the occasion of celebration of the Republic Day [marked on September 2], citing that in case of deportation by the Moldovan side, he might have had problems with entry to the European countries,” Abkhaz leader’s office said in a written statement on September 21.
Abkhaz deputy foreign minister, Oleg Arshba, was on his way to Transnistria on September 1, when he was stopped by the Moldovan authorities and sent back from the Chisinau airport.
Abkhaz leader’s office also said that “despite of change of head of the Foreign Ministry, foreign policy of the Republic of Abkhazia remains unchanged as according to the Abkhaz constitution the foreign policy is determined by president not by a minister.”
Chirikba, who served as breakaway region’s foreign minister since October, 2011, also was the chief Abkhaz negotiator at the Geneva international discussions – a negotiating format launched after the August, 2008 war and which also includes participants from Tbilisi and Tskhinvali, as well as Russian and U.S. officials; talks are co-chaired by EU, UN and OSCE representatives. Next round of the Geneva talks are scheduled for October 4-5.
It is not yet clear who will replace Chirikba as breakaway region’s foreign minister. RFE/RL’s Russian-language Ekho Kavkaza reported from Sokhumi on September 21 that adviser to the president of the World Congress of the Abkhaz-Abaza People, Beslan Kobakhia, and chief of government’s administration, Daur Kove, who was deputy foreign minister in 2006-2010, are reportedly being considered among possible candidates to replace Chirikba.