Estonia condemns elections held in Abkhazia

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (left).
Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (left). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu said Estonia would not recognize the "sham" elections held in Abkhazia, a break-away region of Georgia, which took place on Sunday.

Estonia and the international community regard the region of Abkhazia as illegally occupied Georgian territory and see the elections as illegitimate. Abkhazia's independence is recognized by only a handful of governments other than Russia. 

Reinsalu said Estonia would also keep a constant focus on the continued aggression in Georgia, which has included cyberattacks in recent months. 

He said in a statement on Sunday: "The sham elections held in Abkhazia today violate international law. It should be seen as part of Russia's intensifying hybrid and influence activities against Georgia, which include a significant deterioration of the situation on the administrative line of control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, cyberattacks against Georgia and intensified disinformation campaigns."

In the joint statement issued by members of the OSCE's Group of Friends of Georgia, Estonia as well as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America, state they would not recognise the legitimacy of the so-called presidential elections on March 22 in Georgia's occupied Abkhazia region.

In the joint statement, the countries reiterate their full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.

"We remain deeply concerned over the continued occupation of the territory of Georgia," the statement said.

"We once again urge Russia to fulfil all of its obligations under the EU-mediated August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of its forces to their positions prior to the outbreak of hostilities and the provision of free access for humanitarian assistance to these regions. We also call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the so-called independence of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

Georgia has condemned Sunday's election as a sham and "yet another violation of our national sovereignty," Radio Free Europe wrote.

Separatists, backed by Russia, in Georgia's Abkhazia region fought and won a war of secession with Georgia in 1992-93 and declared independence in 1999. The conflict is now referred too by many as "frozen".

Moscow recognized Abkhazia as independent following the five-day Russia-Georgia war in 2008, which saw a Russian counteroffensive against Georgian forces cross Abkhazia as well as a naval confrontation between Russian and Georgian navies off the coast of Abkhazia.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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