Two years ago, the European Union commissioned a senior diplomat to write the first-ever comprehensive report on human rights in Abkhazia. The report was envisaged by the EU as a significant step forward in its efforts to increase its influence in the territory, where Russia dominates.
But after the Georgian government objected to the way the report was written, the EU reversed course and declined to publish it. The authors instead published the report on the website of a Swedish human rights organization, the Olof Palme International Center, on July 31.
The episode illustrates the challenges – perhaps impossibility – of the balancing act that Western institutions must perform if they want to work in Abkhazia, which considers itself an independent state after breaking away from Georgia in a war that began 25 years ago this week.
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Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at EurasiaNet.org, and author of The Bug Pit. He is based in Istanbul.