Georgia (Abkhazia)


Conflict Summary

Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s and has since been effectively self-governed. However, it was not until 2008 that another country, Russia, formally recognised it as a state. Even now, Russia and a handful of others excepted, the international community continues to consider it as legitimately a Georgian region. After two recent armed conflicts, this Black Sea territory is haunted by diplomatic struggles and the possibility of renewed violence; despite long-standing peace talks in Geneva, Georgia has failed to persuade Abkhazia back into the fold. Abkhazia's separatist war began in 1992, just a year after Georgia itself became independent during the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Amid much separatist agitation, Tbilisi sent troops into Abkhazia to restore order, but with Russian military assistance the Abkhaz expelled them the following year. A 1994 ceasefire created a line of control monitored by Russian peacekeepers and UN observers. However, many of the up to 240,000 ethnic Georgian citizens displaced by the 1992–94 fighting are still unable to return to their homes. Tens of thousands crossed back into the Gali district after 1994, but some were driven out again by clashes in 1998. After Georgia became embroiled in war in South Ossetia in August 2008, Abkhaz forces opened another front in the Kodori Gorge. Again with Russian support, they forced the Georgian authorities to relinquish control of this, their last vestige of Abkhaz territory. UN observers were also forced to leave Abkhazia after 2008, while Russia has been strengthening its military and economic presence in the region. With the victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream party in October 2012, tentative steps towards normalising relations with Russia and Abkhazia could be possible.