Abkhazia: what to expect in the next 4 years12.02.2010 | 13:53
Tomorrow Abkhazia's State Philarmonic Hall will host President Sergey Bagapsh's second inauguration. Representatives of the Russian president's administration and Russian Central Election Commission as well as guests from republics of North Caucasus, Transdniestria, South Ossetia and members of Abkhaz diaspora in Turkey, ambassadors of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Russia are expected to come to the Abkhaz capital. GeorgiaTimes correspondent talked to Russian politologists about Bagapsh's role in the life of Abkhazia, his political activities and prospects of Sukhum-Moscow and Sukhum-Tbilisi relations.
As we know December 12 2009 was the day of presidential election in Abkhazia taking Sergey Bagapsh who outdistanced his rivals by a wide margin to the second term in office. GeorgiaTimes correspondent asked Russian politologists to evaluate the Abkhaz leader's contribution to the history of his country and present their outlook on the young republic's development.
Vladimir Anokhin, vice president of Academy of Geopolitical Problems
Firstly, he has long been at the head of the republic and is now beginning his second term. Bagapsh's presidency was not a simple period. He managed to suppress dissent and served his people throughout a very hard time. Such things are never forgotten and are highly esteemed. His time in office was marked with Russia's recognition of Abkhazia meaning that his status as the republican leader grew to the international level since country recognition is recognition of its leader most of all. That means Russia trusts him. Over the period of his rule Sukhum's position toward Moscow has grown more definite. Bagapsh gave quite a lot to his people. Sure he made mistakes, and who doesn't? Anyway he is predictable and as a neighbor of Russia he may do a lot of good to our relations.
Sergey Demidenko, expert at Institute of Strategic Analysis and Evaluation
Speaking about quasi-state establishments like Abkhazia and South Ossetia it is unfortunately very difficult to fully analyze their leaders. The point is these are not fully-fledged states, so activities of their leaders are not fully valid either. It's evident that Bagapsh's foreign policy is a success but all that directly depends on Russia's actions toward Georgia. Yes, there is some progress, but locally. Abkhazia will be Russia-oriented since without Moscow's support it will be hard to retain sovereignty. In my view, on the whole Bagapsh's activity is quite ordinary. He stood up for Abkhazia's independence but without Russia's actions and Georgia's mistakes the situation could have been absolutely different. It's a sort of palliative.
Valery Khomyakov, Director General of National Strategy Council
There has been no change in Abkhazia's political line since Bagapsh's advent to presidency. Unfortunately, Abkhazia makes no serious efforts in tourism. Now the republican leadership relies fully on Russian aid though in my opinion they must start acting independently, also in terms of economy. That is why I hope during his second presidential term Bagapsh will make efforts to raise republican business to its feet. Abkhazia's involvement in Sochi Olympics must not be forgotten either. So I wish the Abkhaz leader great success.
What are prospects for Abkhazia-Georgia interaction in next 4 years?
Nothing will change. Things will only get worse since Abkhazia is a cut-in between Sochi and Georgia that will not abandon regular provocations and aggravation of the situation before the Olympics. That is why the role of Abkhazia is great: its position and decisiveness are crucial. Sukhum also realizes that due organization of the Olympics will affect Abkhazia's economy. As for Bagapsh's contacts with Georgian politicians he will in no way deal with Saakashvili's confidants. Contacts with the opposition are possible though the opposition has never favored Abkhazia's recognition and it's hard to set up a dialogue as an unrecognized republic.
In this situation I see no prospects for Abkhaz-Georgian relations since Saakashvili's position is quite definite. He sees Abkhazia as part of Georgia and won't backtrack sticking to the policy of territorial integrity. The trouble is he can't do anything. To set up contacts between Sukhum and Tbilisi Georgia must reconsider its foreign policy concept.
No doubt contacts between Abkhazia and Georgia can be restarted but now there is one obstacle here - it's Saakashvili. If new politicians rise to power in Georgia and if they seek to satisfy interests of Georgian people the countries will start negotiations. I don't think it impossible that one day Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Ajaria and Kartli might grow into a soft federation. So it would be silly to say Abkhazia is completely cut off Georgia. There are so many things that unite Abkhaz and Georgian nations.
What are the prospects for Abkhaz-Russian cooperation?