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Relations between Russia and Abkhazia are on the rise

Talks between President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and President of Abkhazia Alexander Ankvab took place in the Kremlin.

During the talks Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Ankvab discussed bilateral trade, economic, defence and border cooperation.

A number of documents were signed in the presence of the two leaders, including an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the protection and rational use of trans-boundary water bodies, an agreement on cooperation and information exchange in the field of setting up checkpoints on the Russian-Abkhaz state border, as well as memorandums on cooperation in the area of sanitary protection and collaboration between the state archives.

After the talks, Dmitry Medvedev presented the Order of Courage awarded to Sergei Bagapsh to his widow, Marina Shonia.

Alexander Ankvab is in Moscow on an official visit.

* * *

Press statements following Russian-Abkhazian talks

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

First of all, I would like to once again welcome Mr Ankvab to Russia as the President of sovereign Abkhazia, to congratulate him on assuming office of the President, as well as on the recently celebrated holiday, Abkhazia’s Independence Day.

It is very important for us that Mr Ankvab’s first official visit is to the Russian Federation. It is a symbol of good relations, which were also excellent in the past, and a guarantee that the friendly and fraternal bilateral relations between our states will continue to develop in the future.

It is vital for us to continue this dialogue at the highest level to make certain that all the elements of the state machine are working efficiently.

Today, relations between our two countries are on the rise and despite the current problems in the global economy and Abkhazia’s economy, we can see tangible progress. There are ambitious plans that are being implemented by the Intergovernmental Commission: I am referring to the Comprehensive Plan for the Period from 2010 to 2012. The prospects for restoring the state are excellent and the good news is that trade relations between our two countries almost doubled in the recent period, although, as the President of Abkhazia and I just said, we must ensure that trade between our countries becomes more balanced. This will benefit both Russia and Abkhazia.

Defence and border cooperation remain keys to peace and stability in the region. We are planning to continue developing it. I would like to inform everyone that today I signed a law ratifying the agreement on the Russian military base.

In addition to defence cooperation, humanitarian ties and foreign policy collaboration are also developing. Our countries are interacting closely and very productively as part of Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability in the Caucasus. These efforts will continue, despite the fact that there are objective challenges, but in any case, dialogue is more effective than anything else.

During our talks we discussed in some detail the current situation and reviewed the most difficult aspects. Our talks will continue in the expanded format.

Some very important documents have just been signed. All in all, our two states have signed over 60 agreements since Abkhazia proclaimed its independence and diplomatic relations were established between our two nations and since Russia recognised Abkhazia as an independent subject of international law. There is still a lot of work ahead; about 30 documents are currently being drafted. I think this is extremely important because it forms the basis of bilateral international relations between our nations and thereby strengthens the authority of Abkhazia as an independent state.

Russia will continue to extend its support to the fraternal Abkhazian people. We are pleased with Abkhazia’s success in state-building and hope that it will continue.

I am confident that as a result of this important first official visit of the President of a friendly neighbouring country, our bilateral relations will obtain a new legal basis and a fresh impetus.

Once again, welcome.

I give the floor to Mr Ankvab. Mr Ankvab, please.

PRESIDENT OF ABKHAZIA ALEXANDER ANKVAB: Thank you.

Mr President, colleagues, friends,

I would like to say once again that we are very grateful to Mr Medvedev for his invitation to make an official visit to the Russian Federation and for the warm welcome extended to our delegation.

We have said that today our relations with Russia are growing stronger, and we will continue to act in the spirit of the agreement signed in 2008. It is our firm conviction that the fulfilment of this agreement is a major task for us despite the anxiety shown by many political forces, in Europe and elsewhere, about the fact that our relationship is growing stronger with each passing day. There is concrete evidence of that, and we will continue our efforts in this area.

I would like to cite a few figures that characterise the support our republic receives from the Russian Federation. Perhaps it is not relevant today but in our opinion it is vitally important because Russia is the only country in the world that has helped Abkhazia with deeds and not just words at a very difficult time for us. In the recent period, from 2005 to present, Abkhazia has received over 14 billion rubles in direct financial support. Today 32,000 Abkhazian pensioners, who worked in the country that used to be our shared homeland, receive Russian pensions. This is a significant amount: approximately 146 million rubles per month. And we are keenly aware that Abkhazia’s current budget would not have been able to shoulder this burden in view of our numerous problems created by the war.

It is crucial for us that today Abkhazia security is guaranteed. This has significantly changed the situation in the country and we have a real opportunity to focus on the socioeconomic development of our republic. The tension in the Abkhazian society that has existed since the war has dissipated, and our nation values this highly.

I would like to reiterate that for us it is highly important that our relations have an extensive legal framework. This is a broad legal basis, which is very valuable to us because the Intergovernmental agreement and interagency agreements greatly improve the quality our joint efforts.

In conclusion, I would like to say that Abkhazia considers Russia its strategic partner and intends to further strengthen our relations in the future. This is the opinion of our people and our shared belief.

Thank you.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Thank you.

Dear friends,

Ms Shonia,

I have one more mission to perform today, and I see it as absolutely logical and correct as it is a state mission and at the same time a very sad one. I would like to present the Order of Courage posthumously awarded to Sergei Bagapsh, Abkhazia’s outstanding statesman, for his brave and courageous efforts to strengthen security in the Caucasus and promote the interests of Abkhazian people and his homeland.

Mr Bagapsh has made a significant personal contribution to the development and establishment of the republic as an independent subject of international law. The Abkhazian and Russian people will never forget that.

Mr Bagapsh and I met on numerous occasions, and I always knew him as a friendly and relaxed interlocutor, genuinely interested in his country’s development.

He believed that Abkhazia’s future lay in the union with our country, in good relations and strategic partnership. His presidency was an extremely important stage in Abkhazia’s history and its establishment as a new subject of international relations. We know that he was engaged with these issues constantly. It was his personal choice.

I would like to ask Ms Shonia to accept this high Russian award, the Order of Courage.

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