Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Time to Talk Trade
|Title||Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Time to Talk Trade|
|Year of Publication||2018|
|Subtitle / Series Title||Europe Report N°249|
|Institution||International Crisis Group|
A decade after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, and about 25 years after ceasefires in Georgia’s conflicts with the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, talks in principle aiming to settle those conflicts have made little progress. Nor have relations across dividing lines improved. In recent years, however, informal trade has grown between Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as independent in 2008, and Georgian-controlled territory; so, too, has trade between Abkhazia and countries outside the region. In a departure from the past, stakeholders are quietly considering options for formalising aspects of trade. In 2017, Georgia and Russia intensified discussions on a trade corridor through South Ossetia, while the European Union began testing options for opening to Abkhaz businesses the free trade agreement it has with Georgia. Prospects of either initiative coming to fruition appear slim, but trade talks are worth pursuing. Together with the present volume of informal commerce, such initiatives can help improve relations across dividing lines and conditions in the breakaway regions.