Belarus’ Lukashenko visits Abkhazia
On September 28, de facto Abkhazian president Aslan Bzhania hosted the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, at the “state country house” of Pitsunda (Georgian: Bichvinta). This is Lukashenka’s first visit to de facto Abkhazia while in office. His last official visit to Tbilisi took place in March 2018. According to Bzhania, Lukashenko “is a long-awaited and very desirable guest for Abkhazia.” The Abkhaz leader added that at the CIS summit in January 1996, Lukashenka came out against Abkhazia’s post-war economic blockade. “You said that the isolation of Abkhazia, an economic blockade is a wrong decision. Abkhazia knows about this and appreciates it. Good human relations connect us. We are happy with your visit,” said Bzhania.
Bzhania said he was sure that Lukashenko’s visit would give a new impetus to “the relations between the peoples of the two countries.” “We will definitely make it the same as in the good Soviet times. Welcome to Abkhazia,” Bzhania addressed Lukashenko.
On the other hand, Alexander Lukashenko thanked Bzhania for her warm words. “Nostalgia never leaves us. I was in this holy land in the past, probably 25-27 years ago. Naturally, not as a president, one can say as an ordinary person, a member of parliament. Yesterday we discussed the problems of Abkhazia with our elder brother, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. We discussed these problems for a long time, until nightfall, and we concluded that Abkhazia could not be abandoned. We must help it so that this prosperous country, the people who live here, live normally,” Lukashenko said.
According to him, the visit to Abkhazia is unrelated to any special situation. “We have a normal situation, and we are not worried about geopolitics. We are simple, like you, peaceful, kind, hardworking people, and we want to live in harmony. Economic and trade ties should become the basis of our relations. There is no other way,” added Lukashenko.
As civil.ge notes that Belarus does not recognise the independence of occupied Abkhazia or the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Traditionally, it votes against the UN General Assembly resolution, reiterating the right of return for all displaced persons and refugees to Georgia’s these separatist regions alongside Russia.
In February 2022, Lukashenka said in an interview with Russian media personality Vladimir Solovyov that he does not rule out recognising the independence of these two regions “as long as I understand and President [Vladimir Putin] tells me there is a need for it.” The Georgian Foreign Ministry reacted at the time. The recognition of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region is “not on the agenda.”
Minsk was considering in 2009 recognising Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region after Moscow had done so in the aftermath of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Eventually, Lukashenka 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.
Georgia is extremely concerned by Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to Abkhazia on September 28 and demands additional clarification from Minsk. The president of Georgia accused Lukashenko of violating bilateral relations and international law by visiting Abkhazia. Belarus’ ambassador to Georgia, Anatoly Lis was summoned to the Georgian foreign ministry. The Georgian foreign ministry accused Lukashenka of violating the state border of Georgia.
“President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko paid a visit to occupied Abkhazia and met with representatives of the occupation regime. The Georgian side is expressing extreme concern about this and has requested additional clarification from the Belarusian side,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.