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Washington concerned over the fate of Georgian pirates2009-09-15 22:26
Last week Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh ordered his navy forces "to destroy Georgian ships trespassing Abkhazia's sea border" emphasizing that "this step is necessary because of Georgia's continuous pirate activities». Hardly had Abkhazia made these unambiguous warnings to the newly sprung "pirates" under Georgian flag when Washington was quick to intervene.
The Abkhaz leader made this tough statement after Turkish Buket ship sailing under Panamian flag with 2000 t of petrol and 700 t of diesel fuel for Abkhazia was detained near the Abkhaz coast on August 16.
Over the past month the Georgian military ships have detained four trade vessels on their way to or from Abkhazia. These were all innocent cargos: coal, timber, metal scrap etc. Most recently Afro Star dry cargo carrier under Cambodian flag and with the Russian crew was detained. There were 23 similar detentions this year with nearly 70 detentions overall for the past four years.
Essentially Georgia aims at naval blockade on Abkhazia and wants nobody to interfere. Before the Georgian aggression in August 2008 detentions of vessels carrying cargos to Abkhazia without special permits of the Georgian authorities could be considered as Georgia's domestic affairs with certain reservations (Abkhaz authorities never liked the wording). After Abkhazia proclaimed its independence and was recognized by Russia the situation changed completely.
Now Abkhazia accuses Georgia of plain piracy comparing the actions of Georgian authorities to the actions of Somali pirates. Abkhaz FM Sergey Shamba recently stated that even Somali pirates acted more decently by "releasing the crew and the ship with the cargo on obtaining a ransom while it's total chaos in Georgia - a fine is imposed, the vessel is taken away and the cargo is confiscated". Then the head of Abkhaz Foreign Ministry remarked that Abkhazia reserves its right "to act suitably".
The Abkhaz FM reminded Tbilisi that the trade vessels from Georgia to Bulgaria, Greece, Ukraine and other Black Sea countries sweep up the coast of Abkhazia which knows how to react to Georgia's piracy. In other words Abkhazia cautions that in case of continued attempts at sea blockade of Abkhazia's coast on the part of Georgia Abkhaz military ships will start active counteraction to the Georgian navy forces. This confrontation may involve the ships of Coast Guard of the Federal Security Service of Russia since Russia and Abkhazia are bound by the Joint Border Protection agreement.
As known Sergey Bagapsh has already agreed with the Russian border guards on extra measures for Abkhazia's sea border protection.