Friday, March 21

Abkhazia, the country that doesn't exist, prepares to follow Kosovo's example

Further to my essay on the spectacularly silly decision on recognising Kosovo, here's another example of how another country wants to become independent. I quote:

Abkhazia has a president, a flag, a national anthem and even a visa system for foreign visitors but the country doesn't appear on any maps. Officially, this small piece of sub-tropical Black Sea coastline with a population today of about 170,000, is a province of Georgia.
But since a vicious war in the early 1990s, it has been functioning as an independent state and, in the aftermath of Kosovo's independence, the Abkhazians hope their statehood will be recognised by the international community.
Shortly after Kosovo declared independence, the Abkhazian parliament, located in a seafront building in the capital, Sukhumi, issued a call for international recognition.
"After the recognition of Kosovo by many Western states, the geopolitical situation has significantly changed," read the parliament's statement. "Any legal decision has a universal character... All people have the same rights to freedom and independence."
On the seafront promenade, in the shadow of war-damaged buildings, old men while away the days drinking Turkish-style coffee and playing chess and backgammon. "Why is Kosovo any better than Abkhazia?" asked one. "It's exactly the same situation. We're a small country trying to stand on our own two feet."
The local papers are awash with Kosovo headlines and accusations that the West is engaging in "double standards" by recognising Kosovo but not Abkhazia. Western countries have said that Kosovo is a unique case, voicing support for Georgia's "territorial integrity", and a resolution to the Abkhazian conflict that does not alter Georgia's official boundaries.
Abkhazia's main hope for recognition is Russia. Vladimir Putin has hinted on several occasions that if the West recognised Kosovo, Russia may recognise Abkhazia and three other "breakaway states" on former Soviet soil.

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