TBILISI -- The Georgian Foreign Ministry says an oil agreement between Russian oil company Rosneft and the separatist region of Abkhazia is a violation of Georgian and international laws, RFE/RL's Echo of the Caucasus reports.
The ministry said in a statement today that according to a law on occupied territories adopted by the Georgian parliament in September, foreign companies are forbidden access to develop oil fields in the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the authorization of the Georgian government.
The Foreign Ministry also referred to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which obliges foreign companies to obtain the permission of sovereign state authorities to engage in economic activity in its marine areas.
On May 26, Abkhaz Economy Minister Kristina Ozgan and Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov signed an agreement in Sukhumi under which Rosneft acquired the rights for a period of five years to prospect for oil and natural gas off Abkhazia's Black Sea coast.
Rosneft is also to build a chain of gas stations in Abkhazia and sell gasoline, diesel, and heating oil.
Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia in August 2008 after a five-day war between Georgian and Russian forces in the second breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia. But its independence, and that of South Ossetia, is recognized only by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the Pacific island of Nauru.