Abkhazia and South Ossetia / Georgia Conflict – Update as of 05/01/24

The files we follow: Karabakh Situation; Abkhazia and South Ossetia / Georgia Conflict; Georgia – EU/ US/Russia/Ukraine Relations and Georgian Domestic Policy, South Caucasian energy, trade and transport issues, Human Rights in South Caucasus, Various foreign policies Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

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The “Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia” adopted on 27 December [by 26 votes in favour of the 28 deputies present at the extraordinary session] the law on ratification of the agreement between Abkhazia and Russia on the transfer of the ownership of the Pitsunda dacha to Russia for a 49-year lease. An agreement which, as a gesture towards the opposition, was the subject of two amendments [concerning the exact geographical coordinates and the addition of a clause of “non-transfer of land to third parties”] but which was strongly condemned by President Salomé Zourabishvili, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US State Department, the French MEAE, and the EU delegation to Georgia. This transfer of a 4km2 site has been debated within Abkhazian society since July 2022, the date of the discovery by the Abkhazian population of the signing of an agreement dating from January 2022 between the authorities and Russia.

On the South Ossetian side, “president” Alan Gagloev declared on 28 December in Tskhinvali that “the question of organizing a referendum on the accession of South Ossetia to Russia [had] in no way been agreed with [their] Russian colleagues and that South Ossetia, as seen with its Russian partner, was not yet ready for it. He also announced that the construction in collaboration with Russia of drones for military and civilian use was planned. The next day, its “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” shared its analysis of relations with Georgia in a report on the outcomes of 2023 foreign policy: “Georgia’s current leaders are the target of very strong pressure, both from the internal radical opposition and from outside, from the so-called “friends of Georgia”, in connection with demands for membership in the anti-Russian coalition of countries, including the imposition of sanctions and even, in certain circumstances, the opening of a “second front”. So far, the current Georgian leadership has managed to pursue a balanced policy and resist such calls for suicide.

On 30 December, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former founding president of the ruling Georgian Dream party and billionaire who had decided to officially leave politics in 2021, announced her return to a more pro-active position by taking on the role of president of honour of the party in question, with the stated objective of “protecting the team from human temptation” and becoming its new “centre of gravity”.

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