Vashadze haunted by Abkhaz skies20.09.2010 | 16:55
The break taken this week by Georgian foreign policy administration is over. Main diplomat of the country Grigol Vashadze has mounted the rostrum to deliver more anti-Russian rhetoric. He said that Georgian authorities would resist the realization of the Russian and Abkhaz governments' plans on setting up regular flight connection between Moscow and Sukhum. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed Tbilisi's claims with the Abkhaz Foreign Minister Maxim Gvindzhia.
"Such flights will be gross violation of the rules of International Civil Aviation Organization, - Grigol Vashadze complained. - We will provide as much resistance as necessary to prevent this".
However, it was nice of the minister to admit that his current statement is nothing new in its essence. It is not the first time Tbilisi refers to the opening of direct flight connection between Moscow and Sukhum as to the international law violation: the arguing about the Abkhaz skies has been going on since the beginning of the year.
Or, rather, it is the Georgian side that argues. In winter, Russia and Abkhazia agreed upon the opening of the flight connection, while Georgia refuses to see any legal platform in the signed documents. In the opinion of MFA of the republic, the flight connection between Moscow and Sukhum is the violation of practically all the norms of Chicago Convention. At the same time, Georgian side retains the right to complaint about the big neighbor to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and take mythical international legal measures "to cut short the violation of the country's sovereignty".
GeorgiaTimes correspondent got in touch with Head of Abkhaz Foreign Ministry Maxim Gvindzhia and asked him to comment upon the current situation. According to the diplomat, Tbilisi's current statement should be viewed from an independent expert's standpoint.
Gvindzhia: From this position, I would say that Georgia really insists that Sukhum airport and all the flights should be controlled by Tbilisi, for Georgia claims the territory of Abkhazia. At the same time, there is no peace agreement between the two countries, they are presently in the state of war and Georgia makes it fairly clear that it is going to make another attempt of the forcible conflict settlement. Considering the situation, how can one demand the right of control over such a fragile and sensitive civil object as a civil airport? Let me draw a parallel: imagine the US giving control over their airport in Texas to members of the Taliban.
Presently, Georgia is concerned about any possible economic or social improvement of Abkhazia's life. Tbilisi deliberately maintains the sanctions regime, trying to put brakes on the republic's economy development. The same is about its statements regarding the airport. However, the opening of the airport terminal can be viewed as a positive thing, for it will facilitate the people's life, making it better. That's the reason to be voiced by the numerous international politicians who come to the Caucasus in order to persuade Abkhazia to become friends with Georgia and affiliate with it. I do not think Vashadze's statement deserves such an expanded commentary. That is why I made it from the point of view of an independent observer; I tried to abstract away and deliver my speech not as an Abkhaz spokesman but as an international community spokesman.
Maxim Kharitonovitch, do you think ICAO will take any steps after Georgia's appeal?
Gvindzhia: There will be no steps. We will open the airport, put it in operation and fly as we want. ICAO won't have any special leverages here to hinder us. Firstly, we are reconstructing the airport, turning it into a high-level terminal. From the technical point of view, it will correspond to all the international standards specified on the part of ICA. We see no problem at this point. On the other side, they may prohibit air companies to fly to Abkhazia. But there are a lot of countries in the world that face a much more complicated situation and planes still fly there, and ICAO does not take any actions in this respect. There is a practice we are going to follow despite Georgia's statements.
When will the passenger flight connection be opened between Sukhum and Moscow?
Gvindzhia: That's more of a technical question. Right now, the airport is being reconstructed, and the most important part is navigation and restoration of the landing strip. I believe it will be completed in the nearest future. Thus, I think, the tourists of Russia and the rest of the world might expect the flight connection to be opened by the next holiday season.