20 Dec 2017 18:50

Stronger strategic partnership with Russia crucial for Abkhazia - Khadjimba

SUKHUM. Dec 20 (Interfax) - Participation in Eurasian integration and strengthening cooperation with Russia are Abkhazia's priorities, Abkhaz President Raul Khadjimba said.

"Abkhazia attaches fundamental importance to strengthening and intensifying the Abkhaz-Russian alliance and strategic partnership, participating in Eurasian integration processes, and creating the necessary external conditions for socio-economic and humanitarian development," he said at his annual address to the Abkhaz parliament in Sukhum on Wednesday.

"In 2017, the Russian Federation continued to provide significant support and assistance to Abkhazia in the fields of defense and security, economic development, and resolving social issues," he said.

He also expressed satisfaction with the fact that "cultural and humanitarian ties between the peoples of the two countries are growing and strengthening, creating an even stronger basis for political and other kinds of interaction."

"The contractual and legal framework of Abkhaz-Russian relations reflecting the countries' mutual interests is actively being strengthened," Khadjimba said.

"The treaty on alliance and strategic partnership is being consistently implemented; a number of bilateral agreements were signed as a follow-up to it this year. I would like to emphasize in particular the signing of the agreement on cooperation in medical insurance envisaging free medical aid under the Russian Federation's statutory health insurance system to Abkhaz residents with Russian citizenship," he said.

The Abkhaz president described "the agreement on the information and coordination center of the two countries' law-enforcement agencies, ratified both in Russia and Abkhazia," as "an important tool in fighting crime."

"The Abkhaz side is currently preparing a Abkhaz-Russian draft agreement on resolving dual-citizenship issues," Khadjimba said.

As a result of negotiations with the Russian side, an agreement was reached on restructuring the state export loan provided by Russia for the restoration and development of the Abkhaz railroad. The period of the loan was extended by six years, decreasing the amount of annual payments from 368 million to 143 million rubles, he said. "This scheme will help us save about 710 million rubles, which will be allocated to the development of the economy and social payments over the next three years," Khadjimba said.

"Abkhazia needs constant economic growth, and the economic policy of the republic's leadership should be aimed toward that," he said.

"Only the development of our own economy will enable us to stand firmly on our own two feet and give actual substance to sovereignty and the independence of our state," Khadjimba said.