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Abkhazia to require parliamentary approval for ‘international treaties’

1 March 2024
Abkhazia's parliament building. Photo via Sova News

Abkhazia’s parliament has adopted a legal amendment that would require parliament to approve ‘international treaties’ prior to their signing by the president and government.

The amendment is widely understood to be aimed at preventing agreements being signed with Russia without the approval of MPs. 

Under the amendments to the law ‘on international treaties’ unanimously adopted on Wednesday, any draft international treaties must be submitted to parliament 10 days before they are signed, and cannot be signed without the approval of a constitutional majority in parliament. 

The nationalist Abkhaz People’s Movement claimed earlier in February that it had proposed the amendments following controversy over a leaked cooperation agreement with Russia that would have allowed Abkhazia to call on Russia’s National Guard to maintain public order.  

[Read more: Draft agreement with Russia’s National Guard rejected in Abkhazia]

The amendments were presented by MP Alkhas Bartsits, who stated that they were needed in light of instances when agreements were ‘planned for signing or had already been signed’, but were then met with public controversy. 

This was broadly understood to refer to the agreement to transfer the controversial agreement to transfer the Pitsunda State Dacha to Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO), which was initially adopted without parliamentary approval, with its coordinates later found to be incorrect. 

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Speaking to journalists, Bartsits added that the amendments had been introduced ‘to avoid situations of this kind’. 

The amendments were adopted in their second and final reading despite opposition from the presidential administration’s parliamentary representative, Batal Aiba. 

Journalist Nizfa Arshba stated that the amendments to the law on international treaties demonstrated ‘the highest degree of mistrust’ from the legislative branch to the executive branch of government, in particular President Aslan Bzhaniya and Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba. 

‘In essence, the parliament announced that it did not trust the president to independently resolve issues relating to foreign policy. You don’t even have to say the word impeachment — it’s been declared in effect’, wrote Arshba. 

Former Deputy Prosecutor General Eshsoua Kakalia, now head of the Aidgylara public organisation, similarly stated that the parliament had reached the conclusion that it could not trust ‘the executive branch headed by the president’.

‘Unfortunately, this is the reality in which we all find ourselves’, said Kakalia. 

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

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