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Georgia: Lavrov's Abkhazia Visit To Shore Up 'Illusion' Of Legitimacy


Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze on April 20

TBILISI -- Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze told RFE/RL on April 20 that his Russian counterpart's trip visit to Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region this week was an attempt to shore up the "illusion" of legitimacy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traveled to Abkhazia on April 18-19 and attended the opening ceremony for new buildings of what Russia calls its embassy in the region, which only Russia and a few other countries regard as an independent state.

"With this visit, the Russian Federation tried to show the regimes of the occupied territories...that it can support them and strengthen their international positions, which is of course an illusion," Janelidze told RFE/RL's Georgian Service in an interview.

He said that this is an illusion because of what he called "the international community's strong commitment" to Georgia's territorial integrity.

Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast, broke from Georgia's central government control in a 1992-93 war. Russia recognized Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia, as independent countries after fighting a five-day war against Tbilisi in 2008.

Only a handful of countries followed suit, while the vast majority consider that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are still regions of Georgia.

Russia maintains thousands of troops in the two breakaway regions.

On April 18, the Georgian prime minister's special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, called Lavrov's visit a "violation of Georgia's sovereignty."

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister David Jalagania said Russia was "ignoring...international principles and laws."

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