- International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Abkhaziaand South Ossetiaare partially recognised countries, which Georgia considers as parts of Georgia's sovereign territory. [cite news | title = Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Formally Declared Occupied Territory | location = Tbilisi| publisher = Civil Georgia | date = 28 August 2008 | url = http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19330 | accessdate = 2008-09-05]
The UN resolutions adopted prior to the
2008 South Ossetia war(the last one was in May 2008 [cite web|url=http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/ga10708.doc.htm |title=General Assembly Adopts Resolution Recognizing Right Of Return By Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons To Abkhazia, Georgia |publisher=Un.org |date= |accessdate=2008-10-03] ) also state, that these regions should be considered parts of Georgia.
Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia in 1992, when it invoked the
right of secessionunder an interpretation of Articles 70 and 72 of the USSR Constitution. [ [http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/77cons03.html 1977 USSR Constitution, Chapter 8: The USSR - A Federal State] ] [ [http://www.nkrusa.org/nk_conflict/ussr_law.shtml 1990 USSR Law on Secession] ] Failed verification|date=September 2008 South Ossetia also declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s during the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War. [cite book |others=Robert H. Donaldson, Joseph L. Nogee |title=The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests |year=2005 |publisher=M.E. Sharpe |isbn=0765615681, 9780765615688 |pages=p. 199]
Constitution of Abkhazia[ [http://www.abkhaziagov.org/ru/state/sovereignty Constitution of Abkhazia] (in Russian)] and the Constitution of South Ossetia[ [http://cominf.org/2004/10/15/konstituciya_respubliki_yuzhnaya_osetiya.html Constitution of South Ossetia] (in Russian)] declared each country's independence as the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia, respectively.
The self-proclaimed independence of the two regions was officially recognised on 26 August 2008 by
Dmitry Medvedev, the President of Russia. [ [http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2008/08/26/1543_type82912_205752.shtml Statement by President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev] .] Russia's recognition came after Kosovo's declaration of independence, which occurred several months prior to the 2008 South Ossetia war. The 2008 South Ossetia warwas fought between Georgia on one side and South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia on the other.
European Union, [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/08/28/europe/union.php EU agrees to support Georgia, but stalls over more severe action] International Herald Tribune 2008-08-28.] NATO, [ [http://www.nato.int/issues/nato-georgia/index.html NATO’s relations with Georgia] NATO] 2008-09-02.] OSCE, [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19296, OSCE Chair Condemns Russia’s Recognition of Abkhazia, S.Ossetia, Civil Georgia, 26 August 2008] ] the United States[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7597336.stm US condemns Russia over Georgia] BBC 2008-09-04] and many countries have voiced displeasure with Russia's decision and have reaffirmed their recognition of Georgia's territorial integrity. [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSL811953420080808 Security Bush backs Georgia's territorial integrity] Reuters 2008-08-08.] Georgia responded to Russia by declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupied territoriesand downgraded its diplomatic missionto Russia to consulatelevel. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19330 Abkhazia, S. Ossetia Formally Declared Occupied Territory.] Civil Georgia. 2008-08-28] [ [http://www.1tv.ru/news/osetiya/127398 Безвизовые отношения. Россия закрыла свое посольство в Тбилиси, а Грузия - дипмиссию] ] [ [http://www.kommersant.com/p-13157/Russia_Georgia_conflict/ Russian-Georgian Visa Ties Remain] Kommersant 2008-09-04.] Nevertheless on 5 September 2008 independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was officially recognised by Nicaragua, while several countries have expressed support to Russia's position, though still not ready to recognize the independence of the two regions.
Bolshevik Red Armyinvasion of Georgia in 1921, Abkhazia was made a Soviet republicwith the ambiguous status of Union Republicassociated with the Russian SFSR. [ [http://www.abkhaziya.org/server-articles/article-c165f1f9be6ab370d75a0b3d2af71a59.html Абхазия. Проблемы международного признания] MGIMO 2006-05-16.] In 1931, Joseph Stalinmade Abkhazia an autonomous republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/abkhazia-5.htm Soviet Abkhazia] Global Security]
On 21 February 1992, Georgia abolished the Soviet-era constitution and restored the
Democratic Republic of Georgia's 1921 constitution, which provided provision for Abkhazia's autonomy, but did not specify its exact legal status. Due to lack of formal status under Georgia's newly introduced constitution, the Abkhaz Supreme Sovieton 23 July 1992 reinstated the 1925 Constitution, which under Article 4 Abkhazia was "united with the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia on the basis of a special union-treaty", providing for federationbetween Georgia and Abkhazia on equal footing. [cite book|last=Potier|first=Tim|title=Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia: A Legal Appraisal|origyear=2000|url=http://books.google.com.au/books?id=JL9N4F1SgyYC&dq|publisher=Kluwer Law International|location= The Hague; Boston|isbn=9041114777|oclc=154757768|pages=11-12|chapter=History of the Conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia|chapterurl=http://books.google.com.au/books?id=JL9N4F1SgyYC&pg=PA18&sig=ACfU3U0UiawqTPepq8pGxNvIfwIy8ILBVA#PPA1,M1]
On 21 August 2008, a rally was held in
Sukhumiat which the people of Abkhazia appealled to Russian President Dmitry Medvedevand the Russian Federal Assembly for official recognition of their independence as sovereign states. President of Abkhazia Sergei Bagapshattended an extraordinary session of the Federation Council on 25 August 2008. In his address to the Council, Kokoity stated "I can say for certain that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will never be part of Georgia."
On 21 August 2008, the same day as a similar event in Abkhazia, a rally was held in
Tskhinvaliat which the people of South Ossetia appealled to Russian President Dmitry Medvedevand the Russian Federal Assembly for official recognition of their independence as sovereign states.cite news|title=Abkhazia, S.Ossetia send sovereignty appeals to Russia|location= Sukhumi|publisher= RIA Novosti|date=21 August 2008|url=http://en.rian.ru/world/20080821/116198014.html|accessdate=2008-09-09] [cite news|title=Abkhazia sends request to Russia for recognition|location= Sukhumi|publisher= RIA Novosti|date=21 August 2008|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080821/116189365.html|accessdate=2008-09-09] President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoityflew to Moscowon 23 August 2008 to deliver South Ossetia's appeal to the Federation Council, which he addressed and in his appeal stated "what the Georgian leadership has done in South Ossetia can only be described as a Caucasus Stalingrad."cite news|title=Russian upper house seeks independence for Georgian rebel regions|location= Moscow|publisher= RIA Novosti|date=25 August 2008|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080825/116254039.html|accessdate=2008-09-09]
http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2008/08/26/1543_type82912_205752.shtml Transcript in English] ] After hearing appeals from both Abkhazian and South Ossetian leadership, on 25 August 2008 the Federation Council and
State Dumapassed motions calling upon President Dmitry Medvedevto recognise the independence of the two regions and establish diplomatic relations. [cite news|title=Russia parliament asks president to recognize S.Ossetia, Abkhazia|location= Moscow|publisher= RIA Novosti|date=25 August 2008|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080825/116264611.html|accessdate=2008-09-09]
On 26 August 2008, President Medvedev signed Decrees recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia [cite news|title=Russia recognizes Georgia's breakaway republics -2|location=
Moscow|publisher= RIA Novosti|date=26 August 2008|url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080826/116291407.html|accessdate=2008-09-09] and made the following statement:
Quotation|"A decision needs to be taken based on the situation on the ground. Considering the freely expressed will of the Ossetian and Abkhaz peoples and being guided by the provisions of the
UN Charter, the [http://www.whatconvention.org/en/conv/0703.htm 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Governing Friendly Relations Between States] , the CSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and other fundamental international instruments, I signed Decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence.
Russia calls on other states to follow its example. This is not an easy choice to make, but it represents the only possibility to save human lives."cite news | last = Medvedev | first = Dmitry | authorlink = Dmitry Medvedev | title = Statement by President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, 26 August 2008 | location =
Moscow| publisher = President of Russia| date = 26 August 2008 | url = http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2008/08/26/1543_type82912_205752.shtml | accessdate = 2008-09-04 ]
President Medvedev stated that "western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo's illegal declaration of independence from Serbia. We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the
Abkhaziansand Ossetians(and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanianswas not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others." [ [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9c7ad792-7395-11dd-8a66-0000779fd18c.html Why I had to recognise Georgia's breakaway regions] Financial Times 2008-08-26.] Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, noted previous Georgian aggression against Ossetia, and went on to say that "those who insist that those territories must continue to belong to Georgia are Stalinists - they stick to Yosif Visarionovich Stalin's decision", given that it was Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian-Ossetian, who gave the territory to the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, the predecessor of the modern day Republic of Georgia. [cite news | title = Transcript: CNN interview with Vladimir Putin | location = Moscow| publisher = CNN| date = 28 August 2008 | url = http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/29/putin.transcript/ | accessdate = 2008-08-30 ] [ru icon [http://www.rian.ru/politics/20080828/150771441.html Interview of Prime Minister Putin] in original, RIA Novosti]
Ambassador of Russia to NATO, Dmitry Rogozinstated that Russia's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is "irreversible" but called upon "NATO countries to withdraw and review their decision concerning Kosovo's independence" and subsequently "act on the premise that this is the new political reality." [cite news | title = Russia says recognition of S.Ossetia, Abkhazia irreversible | location = Brussels| publisher = RIA Novosti| date = 27 August 2008 | url = http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080827/116325556.html | accessdate = 2008-08-28 ] [cite news | title = What the Russian papers say | location = Moscow| publisher = RIA Novosti| date = 27 August 2008 | url = http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080827/116327550.html | accessdate = 2008-08-28 ] He warned, moreover, that any NATO attack on Russia-supported regions would "mean a declaration of waron Russia." [ [http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=67757§ionid=351020602 Russia: NATO interference means war] ] United States President George W. Bushreaffirmed this view by condemning Russia's decision. [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/08/20080826-2.html President Bush Condemns Actions Taken by Russian President in Regards to Georgia] Office of the Press Secretary. 2008-08-26.] President Bush stated that Russia was "inconsistent with numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions that Russia has voted for in the past, and is also inconsistent with the French-brokered six-point ceasefire agreement which President Medvedev signed on August 12, 2008." Vitaly Churkin, the Ambassador of Russia to the United Nations, attacked the United States' moral high groundin the United Nations Security Councilby recalling the US-led invasion of Iraq. [ UN document |docid=S-PV-5969 |body=Security Council |type=Verbatim Report |meeting=5969 |page=16 |anchor=pg016-bk02-pa03 |date=28 August 2008 |speakername=Mr. Churkin | speakernation=Russia |accessdate=2008-09-03 ] [cite news | title = Russia: UN hypocritical over Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence | publisher = Russia Today| date = 29 August 2008 | url = http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/29648 | accessdate = 2008-08-29 ] Others have noted that the United States' position would be credible if it hadn't supported the violation of the territorial integrityof Russian ally, Serbia, when it recognised the independence of Kosovoin February 2008. [cite news | last = Reding | first = Andrew | title = That Caucasus hypocrisy | publisher = The Globe and Mail| date = 28 August 2008 | url = http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080828.wcogeorgia0828/BNStory/specialComment/home | accessdate = 2008-08-29 ]
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashviliconsidered Russia's move as an attempt to alter the borders of Europe by force. Below are some excerpts from his statement:
This is the first attempt on European territory... since Hitler's regime and Stalin's Soviet Union where a large state is trying unilaterally, with the use of force, to completely crush a neighbouring country and openly annex its territory.
This is unconceivable lawlessness and insolence... Russia has done unthinkable damage to its place in the international community.
The question of the re-establishment of the territorial integrity of Georgia and the protection of its freedom - this is not an internal Georgian problem, or a question of Georgia and Russia. This is now a question of Russia and the rest of the civilised world. Georgia's future, is not only the future of Georgia, this is the future of the whole civilised world... [ [http://www.newsgeorgia.ru/geo1/20080826/42318993.html Михаил Саакашвили назвал действия России в отношении Грузии "силовой попыткой изменить границы внутри Европы] ]
Deputy Foreign Minister
Giga Bokeriasaid, "This is an unconcealed annexation of these territories, which are a part of Georgia." [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7582181.stm Russia recognises Georgian rebels] BBC 2008-08-26.]
On 28 August, the
Parliament of Georgiapassed a resolution declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia "Russian-occupied territories" and instructed the government to annul all previous treaties on Russian peacekeeping. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19330 Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Formally Declared Occupied Territory] . Civil Georgia. 2008-08-28.] The following day the Government of Georgiaannounced that they were severing diplomatic relationswith Russia, with the Georgian Embassy in Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi to close as a result. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on this decision, saying that some 600,000 to 1 million Georgiansin Russia would be left to the "mercy of fate". [cite news | title = Russia and Georgia to close embassies | location = Moscow| publisher = RIA Novosti| date = 29 August 2008 | url = http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080829/116387765.html | accessdate = 2008-08-30 ]
Comparisons with Kosovo
The Assembly of the
Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, under administration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovosince 1999, unilaterally declared independence as the Republic of Kosovoon 17 February 2008." [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7249034.stm Kosovo MPs proclaim independence] ", BBC News Online, 17 February 2008] The Republic of Kosovo was instantly recognised by the United States and the EU-3 and now has been recognised by Kosovorecognition internationally recognised sovereign states. [ [http://www.ks-gov.net/MPJ/Njohjet/tabid/93/Default.aspx Countries that have recognized the Republic of Kosova] ]
In an emergency session of the
UN Security CouncilSerbian President Boris Tadićasked the Council, "Are we all aware of the precedentthat is being set and are we aware of the catastrophic consequences that it may lead to?" The Permanent Representatives of the United States, United Kingdom and France presented their opinion that the Kosovo case is sui generisin nature and could not be perceived as a precedent. [cite press release|title = Security Council meets in emergency session following Kosovo's declaration of independence, with members sharply divided on issue|publisher = UN Security Council|date = 18 February 2008|url = http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sc9252.doc.htm|accessdate =2008-09-09 ]
The setting of a precedent was mentioned by many countries, such as
Argentina, [cite news|title=Argentina rules out recognition|location= Buenos Aires|publisher= B92|date =29 February 2008|url=http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=02&dd=29&nav_id=48079|accessdate=2008-09-09] China, Cuba, [cite news|last = Castro|first = Fidel| authorlink=Fidel Castro|title=I hope I never have reason to be ashamed|publisher=Granma Internacional|date = 29 February 2008|url = http://www.rrebelde.cu/noticias/nacionales/reflexiones/nacionales1-290208_ing.html|accessdate = 2008-09-09] Greeceand Spain. Indiastated that Kosovo "can set a very dangerous precedent for similar cases around the world." [cite news|title = Ambassador: India's Kosovo stand consistent|location= Belgrade|publisher= B92|date=31 March 2008|url=http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=03&dd=31&nav_id=48973|accessdate=2008-09-09] The then Russian President Vladimir Putindescribed the recognition by Western powers of Kosovo independence as "terrible precedent, which will de facto blow apart the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries."cite web|title=Kosovo independence a 'terrible precedent'|url=http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,23263323-954,00.html|publisher= The Courier Mail|location= Moscow|date=23 February 2008|accessdate=2008-09-09] He then went on to say, " [t] hey have not thought through the results of what they are doing. At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face."
In hearings before the
United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, CaliforniaRepublican Congressmanand member of the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, Dana Rohrabacher, said: [ [http://sceptic-rus.livejournal.com/650857.html Statements by Congressman Rohrabacher (R-CA) during State Department testimony to U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Washington D.C., 9 Sep 2008] ]
"Now we can talk until we're blue in the face trying to say there is no analogy here, but it doesn't cover up the obvious analogy between Kosovo and what's going on in Georgia where you have breakaway republics similar to what the Serbs face.
Now the only difference is of course, we're Americans and they're Russians. And the people trying to breakaway there were pro-Russian.
And either we're for democracy -- either we're for those people in Kosovo and in Ossetia and elsewhere -- and in, I might say, in Georgia and their right to be separate from Russia in the beginning -- to begin with -- if we lose that, we've lost the high ground. We're already losing our creditably right now, let's not lose the high ground." [ [http://www.fednews.com/transcript.htm?id=20080909t6235 U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of the Georgia crisis, Washington D.C., 9 Sep 2008] ]
Some analysts at the time called ignoring Russian objections and the move by the United States and the EU-3 a mistake, with Ted Galen Carpenter of the
Cato Institutestating that their view of Kosovo being sui generisand setting no precedent as "extraordinarily naïve".cite web|last=Galen Carpenter|first=Ted|title=Kosovo Independence Grenade|publisher= Cato Institute|date=22 February 2008|url = http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9238|accessdate =2008-09-09 Archived by WebCite® at [http://www.webcitation.org/5ajEq8FjY webcitation.org/5ajEq8FjY] .] It was also suggested that Russia could use the case of Kosovo as pretext for recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the future. [cite web|last=Friedman|first=George| title = Kosovar Independence and the Russian Reaction|publisher = Stratfor|date = 20 February 2008|url = http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/kosovar_independence_and_russian_reaction|accessdate = 2008-09-10] Other analysts, including the Heritage Foundation, offer that Kosovo is no precedent due to its administration by the United Nations as a protectoratefor seven years and was blocked from being recognised by the United Nations due to Russia and China being able to use their veto in the United Nations Security Council. [cite web|last=McNamara|first=Sally|title=Russia's Recognition of Independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia Is Illegitimate: They Are Not Kosovo|publisher= Heritage Foundation|date = 28 February 2008|url = http://www.heritage.org/Research/Europe/wm2037.cfm|accessdate = 2008-09-10]
Reaction to independence declaration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
thumb|center|650px|A world map showing the status of international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence by nation:">legend|red|Abkhazia and South Ossetia.legend|#A3A3A3|Other states.
Recognitions by UN states
Positive views on recognition
International reaction to the 2008 South Ossetia war
Controversy over Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence
List of unrecognised countries
South Ossetian independence referendum, 2006
International reaction to the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence
Controversy over Kosovo independence
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