Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is received by his counterpart from South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity (July 2009).

August 26 marks one year since Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the Decrees recognizing the independence of the Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

For the South Ossetian and Abkhaz peoples this day became undoubtedly fate-determining. Russia’s recognition of these republics was in the prevailing circumstances the only correct decision of the Russian leadership firmly securing the population of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as ensuring peace and stability on their borders with Georgia. Against the background of the barbarous attack by the Georgian military on peaceful Tskhinval entailing the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, this move helped avert further bloodshed, cool down the aggressor and normalize the situation in the region.

Enormous work has been done over the past year to establish full-fledged interstate relations between Russia and the two young republics. On September 17, 2008, the Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance were signed at summit level, becoming the foundation for the subsequent development of bilateral juridical bases. As of now, 12 interstate, intergovernmental and interagency agreements in different fields have been signed with Tskhinval and Sukhum each; 36 agreements with South Ossetia and 43 bilateral documents with Abkhazia are in the stage of negotiation. First and foremost, they are about the development and strengthening of cooperation in the military sphere, economic and social assistance, economic and transport infrastructure reconstruction, trade-and-economic collaboration and the establishment of normal social security.

Russian troops and border guards present in Abkhazia and South Ossetia under the bilateral agreements fully in line with international legal norms contribute hugely to regional stability and security. They maintain necessary contacts with the European Union monitors deployed in the Georgian areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia under last year’s peace agreements of Presidents Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy.

President Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia at a press conference with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (August 2009).

The recent visits by President Medvedev to South Ossetia and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia attest to the priority Moscow attaches to the onward and vigorous development of bilateral relations with the republics. We will continue rendering socioeconomic assistance to the brother peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, developing full-fledged interstate cooperation with them and helping to strengthen their positions in the international arena.

Only Nicaragua apart from Russia has recognized the independence of these two new Transcaucasian republics so far. The widening of the process of international recognition of Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence – however long it takes – will doubtless contribute to the further consolidation of peace and security in the region. Of course, there must be no pressure in such sensitive international legal issues; each member of the international community determines its own foreign policy priorities. It is clear, though, that without recognition of the new politico-military and legal realities in Transcaucasia it will be impossible to deploy and expand any forms of international presence within South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Participation by representatives of these republics on a par with the western partners in the Geneva Discussions on stability and security in Transcaucasia as well as in the joint mechanisms to prevent and respond to incidents in the border areas visibly corroborates the obligatoriness of further consideration of the opinions of Sukhum and Tskhinval in examining vitally important questions of this region.