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What Is the EU’s Game in the Caucasus Separatist Territories?

In preparation for independence day celebrations in 2006, a tailor sews Abkhazian flags in a Sokhumi shop, which also displays a Russian flag. Already under the protection of Russia, the Georgian breakaway region is taking steps toward improving relations with the European Union. (Photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

The European Union is making a push to raise its profile in two trouble spots in the South Caucasus, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Brussels insists its forays in the region are nothing more than routine diplomacy. But some observers believe the EU is hoping to push back against Russia’s troublemaking in Ukraine.
 
The opening EU diplomatic thrust was aimed at Abkhazia, a Black Sea territory that broke free from Georgia in 1993. It remains financially dependent on Russian subsidies to maintain a semblance of self-government.
 
On February 3, the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus, Herbert Salber, met with Abkhazia’s de facto foreign minister, Viacheslav Chirikba, in the region’s capital, Sokhumi, to discuss the EU’s activities, according to official reports. The meeting was held a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an “alliance and strategic partnership” agreement with the separatist-controlled territory, which Moscow recognizes as an independent country.
 

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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.

What Is the EU’s Game in the Caucasus Separatist Territories?

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