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Semneby’s trip to Sukhum2009-03-20 15:51
The European Union keeps "courting" Abkhazia in its own way without recognizing it but with an alleged intention to cooperate. Yesterday Sukhum welcomed the EU Special Envoy to the South Caucasus Peter Semneby.
"This visit is essential for thorough discussion of the European Union's attitude to Abkhazia and possible EU's actions in different spheres; - the republican press service quotes Semneby's words. - We are ready to continue cooperation on major issues and I call on my colleagues to come to Abkhazia more often. Apart from that we want to have specific information on the problems people of the republic are facing. We want to have possibilities to communicate. On the other hand there are formal obstacles and problems that should be realized and considered". Semneby also emphasized that differences between the European Union and Abkhazia on the status of the republic should not hamper implementation of the projects of mutual interest.
It is good that Semneby acknowledges difficulties in relations between Abkhazia and the EU. However his phrase about "continuation of cooperation" is somewhat puzzling. It is common knowledge that at this stage the European Union is closely cooperating with Tbilisi, and not with Sukhum. There are questions about "joint projects" casually mentioned by the special envoy. It is known that Abkhazia's all international projects are now connected only with Russia, its closest neighbor and guarantor of security in the republic. It is difficult to say what projects the EU can have with Abkhazia. Hopefully these are humanitarian projects the republic so badly needs.
"If there is a desire to work with us we are open and ready to communicate, to solve many issues, - president Sergey Bagapsh replied to his interlocutor. - We have always considered ourselves as part of Europe, of the world, as part of international law and we will stick to it". According to the Abkhazian leader it is necessary to separate political issues from non-political ones. "This is the cooperation we long for, - he said. - But we don't know how to fulfill this idea as even the humanitarian matters become associated with politics nowadays".
The president's skepticism is justified. It is true that he offers a warm welcome to his guests, he is open to dialogue. But by now the EU-Abkhazia relations are clearly below the level of full-fledged bilateral cooperation. "United Europe" even denies visas to Abkhazian citizens.
According to the president this is another manifestation of the EU's readiness to cooperate with the young republic only on the level of promises and nice speeches, not actions.