A Euro-Style Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's Independence?
After securing support from an archipelago of Pacific island nations for the independence of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia, Moscow may now have netted a bigger catch -- Serbia.
During his visit to Moscow last week, Serbia's new president, Tomislav Nikolić, promised to push for recognition of the duo's independence in the Serbian parliament; a pledge that sparked optimism in Abkhazia. And, by now comfortably settled into its role in the two breakaway regions, Russia has made plain that it's happy to sweeten the deal.
Nikolić’s promise was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin promising to lend $800 million to Serbia, which he described as Russia's “traditional partners” and “soul mates."
Other Russian soul mates, the South Pacific countries of Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, also received or are believed to have received gifts from Moscow, but the Kremlin maintains their recognitions of the independence of the two Russian-guarded territories came from the heart.
Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze noted that Georgia and Serbia share an Orthodox Christian faith (for that matter, so do Georgia and Russia), and an aspiration to integrate with the European Union. Beyond guilt-tripping Serbia's government into respecting Georgia’s territorial integrity, Tbilisi expressed hope that Belgrade will not choose to buck the EU’s position on the Georgian breakaways.
Serbia, though, already has a bone to pick with the EU. Most EU members have recognized the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, a move that Moscow used to defend its own recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's sovereignty. That said, as Abkhazia's own past experience has shown, many an unexpected twist and turn can lie on the road to recognition.
In any case, if Serbia or other economically troubled European countries choose to snub the EU's take on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, most likely they need not entirely despair. After all, there is always a pawnshop in Moscow ready to assuage their financial woes.