Georgia has cut off diplomatic relations with the Syrian Arab Republic, after Syria recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. In a press briefing, Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Dondua said that by recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent, ‘Assad’s regime supported the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Georgia, illegal occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and years long ethnic cleansing’.
Announcing the decision, Syria’s foreign ministry said in a statement that ‘as a gesture of gratitude of Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s support of Syria during terrorist aggression against it […] the three countries have agreed on exchanging recognition and setting up embassy-level diplomatic relations’.
The authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia hailed the decision on Tuesday, with Abkhazian President Raul Khadzhimba stating ‘we ‘highly appreciate this step from the government of Syrian Arab Republic and we are confident that our relations will develop in spirit of mutual respect and cooperation’.
Abkhazia’s deputy foreign minister Kan Taniya said on Twitter that this was ‘another confirmation of the fact that wide international recognition of Abkhazia is only a matter of time. Thank you, Syria!’
The Syrian Arab Republic recognized the Republic of #Abkhazia as a sovereign and independent State. Another confirmation of the fact that wide international recognition of Abkhazia is only a matter of time. Thank you, #Syria! pic.twitter.com/VERqlKJzUd
— Kan Taniya (@kantaniya) May 29, 2018
South Ossetia’s Foreign Ministry released a similar statement, saying they had declared ‘mutual recognition and establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries’.
Speaking at the briefing, Dondua said that the ‘Syrian regime disregarded the territorial integrity of a sovereign state and a commitment to follow the internationally recognised principle of territorial integrity. Therefore, Georgia has started procedures to cut diplomatic relations with the Syrian Arab Republic’. Dondua called Syria’s step a result of ‘manipulations’ of Russian Federation.
Minutes after the briefing, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze called the move a ‘blatant violation of International Law’ via his Twitter page.
Recognition of independence of historic regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Osetia), by Russian manipulated Assad regime in Syria, is another blatant violation of Int Law by Assad and should be condemned by the int community
— Mikheil Janelidze (@JanelidzeMkh) May 29, 2018
Russia was the first country to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, on 26 August 2008, following the August War. Syria is the fifth state currently recognising their independence, following the example of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru, a small Pacific island with a population of 10,000. Vanuatu first recognised Abkhazia in 2011, withdrawing this in 2014. Tuvalu had previously recognised both, but withdrew recognition in 2013.
States providing official recognition for Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been accused of doing so in exchange for Russian financial aid. Russian troops and mercenaries are currently fighting in Syria’s civil war in support of embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
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.