Abkhazia–United States relations
Abkhazia–United States relations refers to the diplomatic relations between Abkhazia and the United States. Abkhazia and the United States do not have official diplomatic relations due in large part of the United States recognizing the region of Abkhazia as part of Georgia. A position recognized by Georgia and the majority of United Nations member states. The United States' lack of relations with Abkhazia has been one of the focal points of conflict between Russia and the United States since the Russo-Georgian War in which the United States blamed Russia for invading sovereign Georgian territory.
In early 2000, in an attempt to resolve the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict, then-UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Dieter Boden and the Group of Friends of Georgia, consisting of the representatives of Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, drafted and informally presented a document to the parties outlining a possible distribution of competencies between the Abkhaz and Georgian authorities, based on core respect for Georgian territorial integrity. The Abkhazian side, however, has never accepted the document as a basis for negotiations.
In April 2007, the U.S. government refused to give an entry visa to the foreign minister of Abkhazia Sergei Shamba who was due to speak at the UN headquarters in New York City. The incident caused an international dispute as Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin accused the U.S. of not letting one side of the conflict speak before the UN. Security Council president, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, backed the Russian demand for Shamba's visa. But the U.S. Ambassador, Alejandro Daniel Wolff, accused the Russian side of "a mischievous effort" to raise "false analogies" between Abkhazia and Kosovo, thus "complicating the discussion." The U.S. stated that such airport to UNHQ visa access was not guaranteed to countries seeking international recognition; Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu had been given a visa. Sergei Shamba himself described the situation as "dual standards".
In 2008, almost a month prior to the Russo-Georgian War, then-American president George W. Bush informally tried to establish contacts with the Abkhazian government according to a leaked State Department cable from WikiLeaks from July 2008. President Bush condemned Russia for the war stating on August 11, 2008, "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century." Bush also said, "There’s evidence that Russian forces may soon begin bombing the civilian airport in the capital city." Bush urged Russia to sign the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement, otherwise, Russia would "jeopardize" its standing with the West. Although the Bush administration contemplated a military reaction to defend Georgia, it decided against it so as to not provoke a conflict with Russia. Instead, the US sent humanitarian assistance to Georgia on military aircraft.
In October 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States would not recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The United States also does not recognize Abkhazian passports but instead recognizes "neutral passports" since 2012, which were issued by the Georgian government in summer 2011 providing for the issuance of neutral identification and travel documents to residents of Abkhazia and the former South Ossetian autonomous province of Georgia. The document allows traveling abroad as well as enjoying social benefits existing in Georgia.
Since 2017 under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 signed into law by then-president Donald Trump bans American foreign aid to Abkhazia and South Ossetia and according to the bill that "none of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for assistance for the central government of a country that the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations has recognized the independence of, or has established diplomatic relations with, the Russian occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia." The ban on foreign aid to Abkhazia and South Ossetia continued the following year under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 designating $105.3 million dollars in aid to Georgia. The law stated that the Secretary of Treasury, "shall instruct the United States executive directors of international financial institutions to vote against any assistance for any of their programs (including any loan, credit, or guarantee) that violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia." And that the Secretary, however, is authorized to waive these restrictions, if he/she "determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is in the national interest of the United States, and includes a justification for such interest." The 2020 United States federal budget under the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2020 signed into law in 2019 designated $132 million dollars in foreign aid to Georgia continued the outlawing of American aid to Abkhazia and South Ossetia under the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury.
In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's August 8, 2017 visit to Abkhazia, the U.S. referred to it as "inappropriate". The U.S. State Department stated "The United States fully supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and rejects Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."
In 2018, the U.S. condemned Syria for establishing formal relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia referring to the two regions as "Russian-occupied".
In order to help the conflict resolution in the Caucasus, the Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi started an exchange program for Abkhaz university employees in 2018. The professors from Abkhazian State University visited the United States. They visited the Arizona State University, San Diego State University, Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, Pennsylvania State University, University of Maryland, College Park and the United States Department of Agriculture.
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- Foreign relations of Abkhazia
- Foreign relations of the United States
- International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
- Abkhazia–Russia relations
- Abkhazia–South Ossetia relations
- Georgia–United States relations
- Russia–United States relations
- Russia–South Ossetia relations
- South Ossetia–United States relations
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