Tbilisi, Sokhumi React to Lukashenko Remarks

Georgian Foreign Ministry and Moscow-backed Abkhaz authorities have responded to Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s February 7 remarks on possible recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

Director of Georgian Foreign Ministry’s Press and Information Department, Mari Narchemashvili, told Civil.ge today that the considering the bilateral relations of Georgia and Belarus, the recognition of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region is “not on the agenda.”

“Belarus in this regard remains loyal to the fundamental principles of international law,” she highlighted, going on to argue that Russian media “as always” extracted and interpreted separate remarks by Lukashenko from the interview.

Meanwhile, the Moscow-backed Abkhaz ‘foreign ministry’ stated on February 7 that it positively assesses the Belarusian leader’s statements and expresses hope that Belarus will follow the suit of Russia and recognize the independence of Abkhazia.

It added that occupied Abkhazia is open for a “full-scale dialogue with states friendly to Russia” and would be interested to establish “official contacts” with Belarus.

The ‘foreign ministry’ also claimed that if Minsk moves to recognize Abkhazia as independent, it would confirm Lukashenko’s course on “building of strong allied relations between Belarus and Russia.”

Lukashenko has said in an interview with Russian media personality Vladimir Solovyov he does not rule out recognizing the independence of the two occupied regions “as long as I understand and President [Vladimir Putin] tells me there is a need for it.”

Minsk was considering in 2009 to recognize Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region, after Moscow had done so in the aftermath of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Eventually, Lukashenko said he rejected the recognition because Russia refused to share negative consequences, including sanctions expected for Belarus from the West in case of such a decision.

Besides Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Nauru and Nicaragua are the only nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia. Tbilisi and most of the international community regard the two regions as part of Georgia.

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