Abkhazia establishes contact with Syria, Georgia protests
An Abkhazian delegation has arrived in Syria where it is participating in an international commercial fair in Damascus, meeting several high-placed officials of the country.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, Daur Kove, the Minister of Economy Adgur Ardzinba and President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Abkhazia Gennadi Gagulia conducted negotiations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Syria, Walled Muallem.
“We spoke about the possibility of establishing and developing a bilateral economic and humanitarian cooperation,” Minister Kove informed journalists.
Minister Ardzinba spoke about the technical aspects of cooperation and said that Abkhazia may become a part of the logistical-transport chain which already connects Russia with Syria. He gave an example of where ore may be shipped to Abkhazia from Syria, where the production of products may be organized and then sent on to the Russian market.
“This will be helped by the agreement of Abkhazia on duty-free trade in goods with the Russian Federation,” Minister Ardzinba said.
According to him, the possibility of opening commercial representation in Syria and vice versa was also discussed, as well as the preparation of a document which would allow for bilateral duty-free trade. Furthermore, he said that the first version of such a document will be prepared and will soon be sent to the Syrian leadership.
He also noted that the distance between the Sukhumi maritime port and the seaport of Syria is 1 400 nautical miles, which a ship could travel in just five days. “This is not a long way,” said Ardzinba.
The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Abkhazia Gennadi Gagulia told journalists that the delegation of the Chamber had arrived in Syria for the first time nine years ago. However, they were unable to conclude an agreement with the Syria Chamber of Commerce at that time.
“The next contact was already established during the war, and in 2015 we signed an agreement with the Association of Exporters of Syria and the Damascus Chamber of Industry. They specially came to Lebanon to sign this agreement,” said Gennadi Gagulia.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs told journalists that the question of Syria’s recognition of Abkhazia’s independence was also discussed during official meetings that were held in Syria.
“We aren’t trying to rush events; we are now talking about the possibility of developing our economies and of humanitarian contact. There is a large Circassian diaspora in Syria which unites representatives of the Adygean peoples, and this is a very important factor in the bilateral relations between Abkhazia and Syria,” said Daur Kove.
The Georgian authorities sent a diplomatic note to Damascus as a sign of protest in connection with the visit of the Abkhaz delegation. Representatives of the Abkhaz authorities responded to Tbilisi’s actions as follows:
Minister of Foreign Affairs Daur Kove:
“It is the right of a sovereign state to send diplomatic notes to express one’s protest, just as it is our sovereign right to develop contacts with other states. Today, the leadership of Georgia is apparently continuing the policy of isolating our republic.”
Minister of Economy Adgur Adzinba:
“I recently read the speech of the Prime Minister of Georgia in which he expressed his concern over the difficult economic situation of residents of Abkhazia. But when we try to establish commercial and economic relations and the Georgian government tries to block this, they are obviously contributing to the worsening of the economic situation of Abkhazia.”
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