EU presidency rejects Abkhazia election

The European Union does not recognise the presidential election in the breakaway region of Abkhazia and continues to back Georgia’s territorial integrity, the Swedish EU presidency said yesterday.

“The European Union does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework within which these elections have taken place,” the EU presidency said in a statement on behalf of all 27 member states.

“The European Union continues to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, as recognised by international law,” added a statement by the EU presidency, which Sweden holds until the end of the year.

Separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh won Saturday’s vote in Abkhazia by a huge margin in an election considered illegitimate by most of the world but hailed by Russia.

Russia’s growing influence is unmistakable in Abkhazia, a scenic strip of territory along the Black Sea that is home to 216,000 people and famed for its balmy beaches and subtropical climate.

Many in the rebel region contend the region has merely swapped Georgian control for Russian domination and that Bagapsh has become too close to Moscow.

The election was Abkhazia’s first presidential vote since Russia recognised the region as independent in August last year after a brief war with Georgia.

Only Nicaragua and Venezuela have joined Moscow in recognising the region’s independence, while the rest of the world considers Abkhazia to be part of Georgia illegally occupied by Russian troops.

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