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Different weights should not prevent Russia and Abkhazia from integration – expert

Alexander Mikhailenko, Professor of the Department for Russia’s Foreign Policy of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

The Abkhazian authorities have enough political and managerial experience for solving the problems of their people, Professor of the Department for Russia’s Foreign Policy of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration Alexander Mikhailenko said in an interview to EADaily.

Abkhazia is not yet sure whether to create a joint information and coordination center of the Abkhazian and Russian interior ministries. This project is stipulated by the Abkhazian-Russian strategic partnership agreement but quite recently the Abkhazian MPs rejected its Russian version as, according to them, it implied a merger of the two ministries – a fact that has caused a new wave of concern for Abkhazia’s sovereignty.

According to Mikhailenko, this problem is not new for Russia and its partners. Even Belarus and Kazakhstan have such concerns. And the smaller the partner, the bigger the concern.

Sovereignty is a big concern for small nations, especially if they are strongly dependent on an “older brother.” But this does not deter Belarus and Kazakhstan from deep economic integration with Russia, the expert says.

According to Mikhailenko, nobody doubts that Russia and Abkhazia need to deepen their cooperation and, particularly, to coordinate the activities of their interior ministries. As regards the forms of such coordination, they should reflect the need of the moment. To live in the past means to drag behind.

One more concern is that Abkhazia has not yet received the money it is supposed to receive according to its strategic partnership agreement with Russia. In the meantime, some Russian mass media report that Abkhazia President Raul Khajimba may be deposed.

According to Mikhailenko, the problem of the joint information and coordination center is not of top priority for Abkhazia and the key reason why the Abkhazians are so much concerned about it is that they do not yet have a specific development strategy.

People should know where their country is moving to, how it will ensure its political and economic independence, what sources of income it will have and what each Abkhazian should do for his country. Without such a strategy, some people in Abkhazia will continue spreading rumors, believes the expert.

According to Mikhailenko, President Khajimba has enough political and managerial experience for solving the problems of his people. And Russia can and must help Abkhazia in the matter.

During a big interview to Abkhaz media on July 8, when asked why the financing of the joint information and coordination center project is delayed, Khajimba said Abkhazia managed to resolve several significant issues and draft its own version. The center will have no more than 48 employees and half of them will be from the Abkhazian Interior Ministry, reports AGTRK.

Earlier, expert on South Ossetia and Abkhazia Yevgeny Krutikov said in an interview to sukhum-moscow.ru that the Abkhazians should stop expecting financial assistance from the Russians just because they are integrating with them but should draft special inter-department agreements so as to get special financing.

Since no specific parameters are mentioned in the basic agreement on the center, this project is now being interpreted in quite different ways, and now the project starts resembling a kind of the FBI with excessive powers and staff, while its initial objective was to raise the Abkhazian Interior Ministry to the level of the Russian one, at least.

According to Abkhazian MP Tengiz Agrba, financing-related problems need specific agreements, as this is politics. “We need to specify what we get money for and what we must do and are ready to do in exchange. In recent years, we have become heavily dependent on Russian financial inflows. This road will not lead us to independence. One of the top priorities of an independent state should be to have a developed economy. I think that this approach will make our union with Russia even stronger,” Agrba said.

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