Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Friday, 7 March 2008

Abkhazia in independence appeal


The breakaway Abkhazia region in Georgia has called on the UN and other international bodies to recognise it as independent.

The appeal was made by the separatist Abkhaz parliament on Friday, a day after Russia said it was lifting trade restrictions on the territory.

Georgia condemned Russia's move, warning that it encouraged separatism.

Tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians were driven from their homes in Abkhazia during a war in the 1990s.

In its appeal, Abkhazia said it had "established itself as an independent, democratic, law-governed state". In addition to the UN, the appeal went to the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Russian parliament.

On Wednesday, Georgia's other breakaway region, South Ossetia, asked the UN and other international bodies to recognise its independence.

Anti-Russian protest in Georgia
Georgians have protested against Russian support for Abkhazia
Georgia's foreign ministry accused Russia on Friday of an attempt to infringe Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, after Russia said it was lifting the sanctions it imposed in 1996.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said the situation regarding Abkhazia had completely changed.

He denied the move had anything to do with recognition by some states of Kosovo's independence. Russia says Kosovo remains part of Serbia.

The Russian sanctions were to try to limit Abkhazia's separatist aspirations, but analysts say they have had little effect.

Georgia's foreign ministry said: "This step can only be considered as an undisguised attempt to infringe the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, to encourage separatism".

It said Russia was "abandoning its duty not to supply weapons of all kinds and military equipment to the Abkhaz side".

Mr Denisov said Russia's position on the territorial integrity of Georgia remained unchanged.

But the Russian foreign ministry accused Georgia of "undermining the negotiating process" on the Abkhazia question.

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