"We forbid you to do this" - Abkhazia bans informal Georgian-Abkhaz dialogue
The Abkhazian Foreign Ministry has prohibited the Georgian-Abkhazian informal dialogue of experts and youth and negatively assessed activities of the local branches of International organisations in Abkhazia. Experts believe that at the moment, Abkhazian authorities cannot but take into account the opinion of the Kremlin, which is extremely unhappy about such contacts of Abkhazia with international structures
Projects related to the organization of the informal Georgian-Abkhazian dialogue will be banned, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia Inal Ardzinba has announced during a meeting on January 19 with representatives of international non-governmental organizations working in Abkhazia.
At the same time, the minister stressed that this is the position not only of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main coordinating body for the activities of international organizations on the territory of Abkhazia, but also of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the State Security Service.
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The meeting was attended by the head of the World Vision organization in Abkhazia Oksana Lasuria, the coordinator for establishing relations with the authorities of the Danish Refugee Council Ada Dzhindzholiya and acting Head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Abkhazia Rafis Abazov.
The minister’s statement was caused, in particular, by a sociological survey conducted by UNDP in the summer of 2021 in Abkhazia. Questions to the respondents concerned the internal political situation, as well as the possibility of establishing relations with Georgia.
“In accordance with the law “On Statistical Activities in the Republic of Abkhazia”, only state authorities can conduct sociological surveys. Your organization simply does not have the right to do this. In addition, this activity must be coordinated with the relevant department — the State Committee on Statistics”, said Inal Ardzinba.
The minister said that he positively assesses the projects of international organizations to support small and medium-sized businesses, the development of the agricultural sector and humanitarian support.
But he spoke extremely negatively about individual projects in other areas, calling them “inadmissible”.
In addition to the sociological survey, critical dissatisfaction was expressed with the COBERM project (one of the EU programs). According to the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, Inal Ardzinba said:
“This is an unacceptable project aimed at misleading the citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia, at establishing a direct dialogue between Abkhazians and Georgians at the level of experts and youth. The implementation of this project is unacceptable on the territory of Abkhazia.
Note it down for yourself and don’t do projects like this again. We forbid you to do this”.
Inal Ardzinba, 31, was appointed the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia in mid-December 2021. Prior to that, he worked in the administration of the President of Russia in the rank of an state adviser and oversaw police aimed at Ukrainian direction.
Most experts took his appointment as a big surprise. His predecessor in this post, Daur Kove, has never been criticized by either the authorities or the opposition. Moreover, Kove also had the support of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. It was believed that it was under his patronage that Aslan Bzhania, having become president in April 2020 and left Daur Kove as a minister.
Inal Khashig, editor of JAMnews in Abkhazia/editor-in-chief of the Chegemskaya Pravda newspaper
Inal Ardzinba, back in November 2021, immediately after his appointment as head of the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia, announced his intention to strictly control the activities of international non-governmental organizations in the territory of the republic.
In this context, the current “attack” on individual projects being implemented in Abkhazia fits perfectly into the course declared by the minister.
Significantly restricting the activities of NGOs is now generally in the trend of the Abkhaz authorities – despite the fact that Sukhum, due to international isolation of Abkhazia, has an understanding of the importance of many implemented and ongoing projects and the financial support of international organizations.
Now is the time when the Abkhazian authorities cannot but take into account the opinion of the Kremlin, which is extremely unhappy about such contacts of Abkhazia with international structures.
For several years now, Moscow has been insistently suggesting that Sukhum should legally limit the activities of international NGOs, following the example of the law “On Foreign Agents” adopted in Russia.
The local elites, understanding the perniciousness for the Abkhaz realities of establishing a Russian standard in relation to civil society in the republic, tried to maneuver throughout this period by not adopting this law.
But now, apparently, it has been decided to partially give in. The Parliament is already developing a draft law “On counteracting the international isolation of the Republic of Abkhazia”, which intends to significantly restrict the activities of international organizations.
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