The President of Abkhazia Raul Khadzhimba in a big interview for Sputnik talks on key directions of the internal and foreign policy of the country. Interviewed by Amina Lazba.
– Drawing conclusions of the year of 2014, we cannot help but note the most memorable event of the year, namely the political crises of May. The country experienced serious internal disturbances. In your opinion what was the key factor in stabilizing the situation?
– First of all it is the wisdom of our nation that actively participated in those events yet expressing restraint and responsibility. All of these led to free democratic elections that helped determine the will of the nation.
– The appeal for reforms was the driving force that made the nation come to the square. Today you and your team are leading the process of reformation. How does this difficult process go? What have already been done and what do you plan to do?
– We did not do too much for now. As is known the first months of our work were dedicated to management apparatus staff composition. It coincided with the initiated public discussion of a project of the Agreement with Russia, which helped us frame a document that corresponds with the interests of both countries. This rescheduled decision-making on reforming the system of state authority. However we do plan to start this process in the nearest future.
– You mentioned the Agreement on alliance and strategic partnership of Abkhazia and Russia, what is your assessment of the document?
–Of course this agreement moves our relations with Russia on a qualitatively new level. It is the legal registration of the long-term military and political alliance of two equal states. It corresponds with the interest of both Russia and Abkhazia. Besides, it brings new opportunities for socioeconomic development of Abkhazia that we must use to build our own economy. Thus, the agreement is yet another step in strengthening the sovereignty of Abkhazia and its incorporation to the system of collective security formed by Russia.
–Continuing our conversation on the agreement, part of which is signing a number of intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements, a new question arises: how to secure effective and transparent procedure of their coordination?
– We already have experience in this sphere and we are going to use it in preparation of agreements that would develop the main Agreement. This is our principled approach. We are interested in engaging our society to decision-making. That would raise its legitimacy and raise civic consciousness. We will form expert panels for framing not only intergovernmental agreements, but also various laws.
– At what stage is the process of delimitation of Abkhazian-Russian border, in particular in the region of Aibga village?
– The commission on delimitation resumed its activities, which are conducted in a constructive manner. I am sure that we will eventually come to framing a mutually acceptable decision. The most important thing is not to let excessive politicization of this issue and one-way actions.
– Strengthening the ties with brother to Abkhazian people Northern Caucasus and South Russia nations is one component of Abkhaz-Russian relations. How do you plan to build relations with Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino Balkariya? What are the main components of these relations?
– We are all aware of a big contribution that our brothers made to the struggle of Abkhazia for its freedom and independence. We must strengthen and develop this domain. Of course, declarations and statements about our mutual love and brotherhood are not enough. We have to develop a policy the basis of which should be comprehensive ties with brother republics – economic, cultural, humanitarian ties. We have to communicate more often on governmental and public levels, resume work of various representation offices. So we are willful to build long-term mutually beneficial relations. This would be a real contribution to preservation of our historical brotherhood.
– When the relations with Russia are being built subsequently and constructively, we still have a military threat from eastern borders of Abkhazia. On a NATO summit in Newport Georgia was offered a new format of cooperation, which according to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will help Georgia prepare to membership in the alliance. Meanwhile the modernization of Georgian army with the support of the western countries continues. What can Abkhazia counterpose to this process and do we have all the necessary resources to repel aggression?
– One of the answers to this question would be the signing of the Agreement on alliance and strategic partnership with Russia that creates a unified frame of defense and security. Abkhazia together with Russia will withstand new threats, including military threats, and besides we will have opportunities for technical modernization of our army and its preparation level increase.
– During the time of work of the previous leadership the level of openness of Abkhaz-Georgian border increased, the main indicator of which is the existence of 5 checkpoints at the state border. The official authorities motivated that decision with the ensuring the rights to movement of the inhabitants of Gali district. How do you assess this decision, is it the factor that strengthens the integration processes with Georgia? Where is the line between ensuring the rights of national minorities and state interests?
– We do not prejudice the right of the inhabitants of Gali district to cross the state border with Georgia, but this should be done in appropriate places and legally. We must eliminate illegal border crossings, contraband and other negative factors that affect stability and security in the cross-border region. I believe that the local population is also interested in that. And we intend to put things right in this issue together with our Russian colleagues – frontier guards. The reconstruction of communications from Gal district to the central bridge, reconstruction of frontage road connecting Upper and lower zones, etc. will be instrumental.
– In this context, the issue of vulnerability of this zone to contraband and drug trafficking arises. In absentia of intergovernmental agreements what are the effective mechanisms that could be realized on a unilateral basis to resolve this issue?
–Law enforcement bodies have to work effectively; they should be free of those people who encourage drug trafficking, contraband and other crimes.
–Abkhazia strives for broad international recognition. Did the flare-up in relations of the main ally of Abkhazia – Russian Federation with Western countries influence the process of building diplomatic ties with other countries?
–Most importantly, we managed to secure our state – this is one of the most important foreign policy objectives. Besides, Russia took on responsibility to promote further international recognition of Abkhazia and we feel that support in many countries.
– What would you like to wish our readers and listeners in Abkhazia, Russia and the world?
– Welfare, peace and happiness. I hope that the activities of your informational resource would further expand the knowledge and understanding of Abkhazia across the world.