Russia Seeks Armenian Recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Russia is confident that its closest allies, including Armenia, will eventually join it in recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, a senior Russian official indicated on Wednesday.

The Kremlin is expected to push for such a recognition during Friday’s meeting in Moscow of the presidents of six former Soviet republics making up the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Preparations for the summit were discussed in Yerevan by top security officials from the CSTO member states.

“Every state should itself decide whether or not to recognize these states,” Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council said after the meeting. “Russia will not be exerting pressure on anyone to recognize them.”

“But we are interested in seeing at first some states–and we are convinced that will happen–and, later on, a considerable number of other states will recognize both South Ossetia and Abkhazia once they have an objective picture of those events,” Patrushev told reporters.

Patrushev’s Armenian counterpart, Artur Baghdasarian, did not comment on the issue during their joint news conference. Baghdasarian, Patrushev and other participants of the meeting representing Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were received by President Serzh Sarkisian later on Wednesday.

Sarkisian used the occasion to reiterate his disapproval of Georgia’s failed attempt to restore its control over South Ossetia by force. “Attempts to impose solutions running counter to the will of nations in the South Caucasus are fraught with serious military and geopolitical consequences,” he was quoted by his press service as telling the CSTO officials.

Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s de facto independence from Georgia, strongly condemned by the West, put Armenia in a delicate position. Official Yerevan is anxious not to upset both its strategic ally Russia and Georgia–its main transport conduit to the outside world.

The issue was high on the agenda of Tuesday’s talks in the Russian city of Sochi between Presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. Medvedev said the CSTO leaders should formulate a common stance on the Georgia-related developmen’s at the Moscow summit.

Armenia will assume the CSTO’s rotating presidency during the gathering. According to Sarkisian, it will seek to “boost the effectiveness” of the alliance.

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