June 14, 2006 -- The separatist leaders of Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Moldova's Transdniester vowed to support each other's independence aspirations.
In a joint declaration at the end of a two-day meeting in the Abkhaz capital of Sukhumi, Abkhazia's Sergei Bagapsh, South Ossetia's Eduard Kokoity, and Transdniester's Igor Smirnov said peoples' right to self-determination is universal and should not be upheld selectively.
In an apparent reference to last month's referendum in which Montenegro voted to break away from a union with Serbia, Bagapsh told RFE/RL on June 13 that the international community should not apply double standards when it comes to self-determination.
"I think that in an international legal sense, Abkhazia and all the republics that are represented here have a much stronger case for international recognition," he said. "There's just one thing I don't understand -- the double standard, when somebody is allowed [to choose independence] and somebody is not. Take a look at our history and it will be clear that [independence] is a completely feasible thing."
They also called for the continued deployment of Russian troops on their territory. They said stability in the regions depends on the presence of Russian-led peacekeepers.
The three internationally unrecognized regions broke away from Georgia and Moldova in civil wars after the 1991 Soviet collapse. All three maintain close ties with Russia.
(with ITAR-TASS, Interfax, AP)
President Putin at a Kremlin meeting in April (epa)
PUTIN SPEAKS OUT: During a January press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there is a need for "universal principles" to settle "frozen" conflicts in the CIS. His comments came against the background of impending talks on the future status of Kosovo, which many predict will grant it a form of "conditional independence" from Serbia and Montenegro. As an ally of Serbia, Moscow has consistently opposed the idea of Kosovar independence. Putin's remarks suggest he may be shifting his position, but only if the principles applied to Kosovo are also applied to frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union. If Kosovo can be granted full independence, he asked, why should we deny the same to Abkhazia and South Ossetia? (more)
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