- Title: GEORGIA-LATVIA Latvia sees security threat in Russian deal with Abkhazia
- Date: 26th November 2014
- Summary: TBILISI, GEORGIA (NOVEMBER 26, 2014) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF GEORGIA PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING LATVIAN PRESIDENT ANDRIS BERZINS EMERGING FROM VEHICLE AND SHAKING HANDS WITH GEORGIAN PRESIDENT GEORGY MARGVELASHVILI TWO PRESIDENTS STANDING OUTSIDE PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING VARIOUS OF HONOUR GUARD / PRESIDENTS INSPECTING HONOUR GUARD OFFICIALS PRESIDENTS INSPECTING HONOUR GUARD WIDE OF PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
- Embargoed: 11th December 2014 12:00
- Location: Georgia
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA7USC1OL0U4390ATOW3728N2V3
- Story Text: Latvian President Andris Berzins said on Wednesday (November 26) an agreement deepening cooperation between Russia and Georgia's Abkhazia region threatened regional stability and security.
But, during a visit to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, he also said it was vital for Russia's neighbours to look for ways to live beside it in peace.
The strategic partnership agreement signed by Russia and Abkhazia on Monday (November 24) envisages a "joint defence and security space" and stipulates Russian "protection of the state border of the Republic of Abkhazia with Georgia."
"I consider that this agreement signed between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia region is a step back in searching for any peaceful solution for this conflict and will negatively affect safety and stability in the region and Georgia itself," Berzins told a news conference with Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili.
"Thus for a long-term solution parties must retain from any unilateral and destructive actions," he added.
Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008 over breakaway moves by Abkhazia and another region, South Ossetia, which Moscow has recognised as independent countries.
Monday's agreement was criticised by NATO and the European Union, which are locked in a diplomatic standoff with Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, and Georgia has warned that Moscow might be preparing to annex Abkhazia.
Like Georgia, Latvia is a former Soviet republic that is wary of Moscow, and its government has taken a tough line over Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Berzins on Wednesday underlined the need for caution in dealing with this issue.
"No doubt that both our countries are neighbours of Russia. And there is no other way for us, we have to find ways how to stabilise our relations with our neighbours, including Russia. We will do all the best to stabilise those and to have long-term peaceful, stable relations. It will take time and for us - being members of NATO and the EU - we will, of course, use both of those resources to reach a positive outcome," he said.
But the Georgian leader said Western support should also be available to the EU's neighbours, which have moved toward liberalising trade with the 28-nation bloc.
"The red lines should not be lying only on the NATO allies countries' borders. The red lines should be for free choices of democratic nations and I think that the history has proven that if it does not happen like that, the situation will become even more complicated."
Putin and Abkhazia's leader Raul Khadzhimba signed the agreement in Sochi, the Black Sea resort across the Russian border from the separatist region.
Under the terms of Monday's accord, Putin said Russia would grant 5 billion roubles (111.4 million USD) to Abkhazia, whose population of 240,000 comprises a mix of ethnic groups.
Moscow would also ease requirements for Abkhazia residents to obtain Russian citizenship, but it has not voiced plans to annex the territory.
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