Abkhazia’s president seeks closer ties with Russia - does society approve?
President of Abkhazia calls for cooperation with Russia
This is the first message from Bzhania after more than two years in office (he took up his duties in April 2020).
He explained the omission of the two previous mandatory reports by the pandemic.
The president’s theses were sharply criticized in society and the discussion is still very heated. Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba is also criticised amid president’s recent statement.
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Main points of the message:
● The current international situation and growing external threats dictate the need to intensify foreign policy activities of Abkhazia coordinated with the Russian Federation.
● Georgia is actively building up its military potential and seeks to join NATO. Joint military exercises with the North Atlantic Alliance are regularly held near our borders, both on land and at sea. All this carries a direct threat to the national security of Abkhazia.
“Today, unfortunately, we are at the stage of a cold war. This is how the transformation took place after the Cold War”.
● The President attaches fundamental importance to “further development and strengthening of the Abkhaz-Russian alliance”. This includes discussions about the establishment of international contacts [through Russia] and about a common space in matters of defense, security, and the economy.
● Creation of conditions for the full participation of Abkhazia in the integration processes in the post-Soviet space, implemented on the initiative and with the assistance of the Russian Federation”.
● Creation of export-oriented industries and enterprises and a government support program is needed through concessional lending with the participation of Russian banks.
In particular, it is planned to reimburse part of the costs of entrepreneurs for equipment, development or modernization of production. As well as reimbursement of part of the interest rate on loans for projects in industry, agriculture and tourism.
“The inefficiency of the state apparatus will be overcome”
The President acknowledged that many opportunities are being blocked by an ineffective, often incompetent state apparatus.
“I want to repeat what I said in my welcoming speech at the first meeting of the session of the newly elected parliament in April this year – it’s time to move from words to deeds”, Bzhaniya said.
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The former mayor of Sukhum, Kan Kvarchia, who is now in opposition, described the president’s speech as “everything and nothing”:
“The main thing is missing – specific instructions to the government”
Economist Akhra Aristava says the president has presented grossly inflated GDP figures for 2021. Bzhaniya announced 37.7 billion rubles [approximately $672 million]. This is a 20% increase compared to 2020, which Aristava considers “an incredible figure”.
“In no other sector of the economy has such growth been recorded, according to state statistics on the official website for 9 months of 2021. I doubt that in the last three months of 2021, some kind of miracle happened in our economy.
If there had been such an increase, the budget would have grown by at least one and a half billion rubles! I do not think that the experienced tax minister Jansuh Nanba would have missed such a huge increase in gross domestic product by the ministry.
On the contrary, there was a practical decline in industrial production, a decline in exports and a decrease in the difference in the inflow and outflow of money supply. That is, the balance of money has decreased”, writes Akhra Aristava on his social media page.
Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba considered the focus on digitalization and the development of information technologies to be the most important in the President’s message. MP Inar Gitsba obviously did not like this reading of the president’s message.
“The main focus for the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the presidential address should have been the main guidelines for the implementation of foreign policy tasks. Digitalization is undoubtedly an important direction […] but by no means the main thing for international relations.”
“30 years have passed, and the person who writes the text of the message for the president could not be changed”, the well-known Abkhaz blogger Tengiz Dzhopua writes sarcastically.
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