Thursday April 17, 2014 - 7:24 pm | Login

Natapei withdraws recognition of Abkhazia

Prime Minister Edward Natapei yesterday cancelled and withdrew Vanuatu’s recognition of the so called independent state of the Republic of Abkhazia.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that Abkhazia is a break-away autonomous province of the Republic of Georgia, which the former Prime Minister Sato Kilman had purported to recognized it last month.

“Yesterday (Thursday) the Supreme Court of Vanuatu ruled that the declaration by the Speaker of Parliament on 2nd December that Sato Kilman was unconstitutional and invalid and therefore Mr Kilman ceased to hold as Prime Minister forthwith.

“The Court also ruled that Nipake Edward Natapei be Acting Prime Minister until a new Prime Minister is elected next Thursday.”

Prime Minister Natapei stressed that Abkhazia was made part of the Republic of Georgia in 1930 which also included South Ossetia. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1980 Abkhazia was an integral part of independent Republic of Georgia. Several wars have been fought over Abkhazia between Georgia and the Russian–backed militia in Abkhazia. The most recent war was in 2008 which also included another enclave, South Ossetia, which Georgian and Russian forces fought over and there were allegations of ethnic and the displacement of people.

In 2006, “the United Nations reaffirmed the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders”.

The UN’s position has been that there will be no forcible change in international borders. Any settlement must be freely negotiated and based on autonomy for Abkhazia legitimized by referendum under international observation once the displaced multi- ethnic population has returned, the statement stated.

The Prime Minister said the fact is that the majority of the world’s governments consider Abkhazia as part of Georgia’s territory but only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru have recognized Abkhazia as an independent state. He said that by taking the decision not to recognize Abkhazia shows that Vanuatu is together with the majority of the international community on this important issue.

Natapei has instructed the Vanuatu Ambassador in the United Nations, Ambassador Donald Kalpokas, to establish relations with Georgia.