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Abkhazia to start “base” cooperation2010-02-18 18:34
Russia and Abkhazia signed a treaty on a joint military base in the territory of Abkhazia as decided in follow-up to yesterday's talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh in Kremlin. The document shall be valid for 49 years to be automatically renewed every 15 years if needed. The treaty has raised a wave of resentment in NATO and Georgia believing that Moscow-Sukhum document is illegitimate for the lack of Abkhazia's international recognition. However, there is nothing new in statements by Brussels and Tbilisi.
Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh is on a visit to Moscow this week. A number of documents as well as transport and ecological memoranda have already been signed with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev to enhance the young republic's cooperation with Russia on struggle against illegal migration. The agreement on a joint Russian military base in the territory of Abkhazia is a key one. The document determines the use and functioning of the base as well as "sovereignty and security protection in the republic in cooperation with Abkhaz armed forces including resistance to international terrorist groups", conditions of land use and other property plus the status of personnel and their families.
NATO's reaction to the document was resentment. Carmen Romero, the alliance spokesperson, stated the bloc condemns the agreement on the military base deployment refusing to recognize it as legitimate. She added that the NATO's stand on the issue had never changed: the member states continue to demand withdrawal of troops to pre-conflict positions pressing for the access of monitors to the republics.
Tbilisi, too, started shooting arrows of wrath. Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed protest over the signed agreement in military sphere accusing Russia of attempts to strengthen its military presence in the region.
However, NATO's and Georgia's statements are not a novelty. Since the August conflict the alliance and Tbilisi's current regime have considered Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgian territories. In the meantime Russia that acknowledged independence of the republics makes up cooperation treaties with the new states on South Caucasian map.
As we know, last year Moscow and Sukhum signed an agreement on joint efforts for protection of Abkhazia's state borders. A 350-km border stretch (215- at sea and 98 km on land) was accepted under protection by Russian border guards.