Prof. George Hewitt

The Abkhazians and their Neighbours

The Abkhazians and their Neighbours, in John Colarusso (ed.) Independence of Abkhazia and Prospects for the Caucasus, 71-78, 2010. Global Publishing.

Nobody who was fortunate enough to find themselves in Abkhazia on the afternoon of the 26th August 2008 is ever likely to forget the exhilarating outburst of sheer delight that exploded in the streets after Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev's declaration in the Kremlin at 3pm that Russia finally recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. This followed the hostilities that broke out in/around S. Ossetia late on Thursday the 7th August and the subsequent expulsion of Georgian forces, illegally introduced in 2006 into Abkhazia's Upper K’odor Valley by Georgia's President Mikheil Saak’ashvili, on the following Tuesday (12th August). Despite these military and political achievements (subsequent recognition from Nicaragua being a small additional bonus), many (if not most) of the problems facing Abkhazia and the Abkhazians since the war of 1992-93 remain. This means that there will be a continuation of the need to present the same arguments as previously in order to persuade the international community to understand, as Russia did in 2008, that the solution to the problem of Abkhazia's relations with neighbouring Georgia must begin by accepting that two states are involved in this dispute and that no progress in ameliorating their inter-state relationship is possible without recognition of Abkhazia's independence.

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