Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

Kosovo independence emboldens South Caucasus breakaway republics

  • Breakaway republics in the Caucasus mountains view Kosovo's declaration of independence as a precedent (Photo: wikipedia)

Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are to ask Russia and the United Nations to recognise their own independence in the wake of Sunday's unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.

"In the near future, Abkhazia will appeal to the Russian parliament and the UN security council with a request to recognise its independence," said Abkhaz president Sergei Bagapsh on Monday (18 February), according to Russian newswire Interfax.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If anyone thinks that Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria will stop after the recognition of Kosovo, they are making a big mistake," he said.

Using almost identical language, South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity issued a similar pronouncement.

"South Ossetia will in the near future appeal to the Commonwealth of Independent States and the UN with a request to recognise our independence," he said.

But the European Commission has said that Kosovo is a "unique case" and cannot be taken as a precedent for the South Caucasus.

"Kosovo is not a blueprint that can be applied to any other area,'' said external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner replying to a question on the breakaway Georgian regions during a press conference in Brussels where EU ministers on Monday were discussing Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence.

EU Council secretary-general Javier Solana said the Kosovo case was sui generis, distinct from other regions.

"I don't know if anywhere has been like Kosovo, which since 1999 has been ruled by the United Nations," he said.

"When we talk about [Kosovo being] a sui generis situation, this is so evident that those who don't see it, don't see it because they don't want to look at it."

For his part, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili warned against stirring up tensions in the region.

"I do not advise anyone to even put a nose into this issue and to escalate tensions. We want to resolve all the issues peacefully – we do not need any unrests now – but Georgia will not step back," he stated.

Last week Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met the leaders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to discuss their own conflicts and how they relate to Kosovo's declaration.

A Kremlin source, quoted by Russian daily, Kommersant, said that there is to be a change in the relationship between Russia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia with Russia intending to open "representations" in the two regions.

While Russia has delivered military support to the breakaway republics, it has up to now stopped short of recognition of the Republic of South Ossetia or the Republic of Abkhazia.

\"Chancers\"

Andrew Stroehlein, of the International Crisis Group, told the EUobserver: "Many others who might try to claim independence seem like chancers. They can try their luck, but they're not going to get the international recognition that Kosovo will."

"There have been human rights abuses, but none of the break-away states in the region have faced the massive ethnic cleansing that Belgrade perpetrated on Kosovo.

"None of these regions has been the subject of a UN resolution like Resolution 1244, which in 1999 explicitly called for the final legal status of Kosovo to be determined in future.

Mr Stroehlein also warned against thinking Russia is strongly supportive of Kosovo setting an international precedent in all circumstances, as it too has its own separatist regions.

"Russia's in a precarious situation itself," he said. "Perhaps it wants Kosovo to be a precedent for the Russia-friendly breakaway republics in the South Caucasus, but it certainly doesn't want it to be a precedent for Chechnya."

The leaders of Ngorno-Karabakh have also expressed their hope that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence would set a precedent for their own unrecognised South Caucasian republic, officially part of Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, Russia did not mention Ngorno-Karabakh when it last week listed the unrecognised republics within the former Soviet Union's sphere of influence whose status would be affected by the Kosovar announcement, referring only to South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the Transdniester region in Moldova.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  2. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  3. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  4. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  5. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  6. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  7. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  8. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  9. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  10. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  11. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security
  12. ACCAThe Future of Audit Means Adaption to Today’s Global and Digital World