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Russia Rejects Trade-Off With Turkey On Recognition Of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd right) visits Russian border guards in Abkhazia on October 2.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd right) visits Russian border guards in Abkhazia on October 2.
In the course of his working visit to Sukhumi on October 2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected media speculation that Russia may reach an agreement on formally recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in return for Ankara's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

The Turkish daily "Milliyet" had reported one week earlier that that possibility was under discussion.

Lavrov was asked to comment on the "Milliyet" report during a meeting on October 2 with students and faculty members at Abkhaz State University. He responded that Moscow is no longer inclined to be guided by what he termed the "Cold War logic" of trade-offs -- "I will do this for you if you do that for me."

He went on to argue that the two cases are fundamentally different historically and in terms of international law. He stressed that Abkhazia was once a full-fledged republic within the Soviet Union, and that while Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had tried unsuccessfully since 2004 to bring South Ossetia back under control of the Georgian central government by force, Greece had never attempted any such military action against Northern Cyprus.

Taking all those differences into account, trade-offs are inappropriate, Lavrov concluded.

In response to a subsequent question about U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's warning that Washington will actively seek to dissuade other countries from recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent, Lavrov said Russia will take unspecified reciprocal measures in response to any such attempt to dictate to sovereign states and deny them the right to act independently.

While in Sukhumi, Lavrov signed with his Abkhaz counterpart Sergei Shamba a bilateral agreement on visa-free travel.

At the time of senior Turkish diplomat Unal Cevikoz's visit to Sukhumi last month, "Hurriyet Daily News" quoted Shamba as saying that "we certainly hope that Turkey will recognize Abkhazia. There are some positive signals but they have to be materialized. We’re waiting for a more active approach." Shamba did not, however, make any mention of Northern Cyprus.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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