Pubblichiamo la versione in inglese dell’intervista di Riccarda Lopetuso a Kan Taniya, viceministro dell’Abkhazia. La traduzione è a cura dello stesso viceministro, che ringraziamo per l’estrema disponibilità.

It is difficult to be guided in international law, to understand what should prevail -the right to self-determination of peoples or respect for territorial integrity. In their case – it is useless. They declared themselves independent from Georgia for more than 20 years ago and attach little value to the fact that Abkhazia (in Italian sounds like Abkazia) is not recognized by the European Union and the international community. For Abkhazians it is important to live as a nation, and it is so, in spite of the de facto independence.

I met with the Deputy Foreign Minister Kan Taniya, after he read my June article at Odysseo, related to Abkhazia, and contacted me. The Deputy Minister, born in 1987, studied in Italy at the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Florence and therefore speaks excellent Italian.

Mr. Taniya, what it is to be the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic, which is recognized by 6 UN member states?

Being a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia, which is recognized by 6 UN member states, such as Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, is much harder than being a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of any other UN member state. In the case of the Republic of Abkhazia it is necessary to be more creative in finding ways to interact with the outside world, as the official diplomatic channels are closed to us. Despite this, the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry continues to work to promote the image of the Republic of Abkhazia abroad.

Thus, the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry delegation, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Viacheslav Chirikba, takes part in the International Geneva Discussions on Stability and Security in Transcaucasia. The Geneva discussions are an important platform for dialogue with the international community. Although the Republic of Abkhazia is a recognized country, however, we have very few embassies and representative offices abroad, and in this sense the Geneva platform gives us an excellent opportunity for direct communication with major actors such as the EU, UN, OSCE, Russia and the United States.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia has 11 official representatives abroad, who actually are our ambassadors. In addition to the official representative offices of the Foreign Ministry Abkhazia, we have registered in the Republic of Italy the first Association connected with the Republic of Abkhazia, and it is called “Europe-Abkhazia”. The Association will be for us the legal basis for implementation of economic and cultural activities planned by us in Western Europe.

Mr. Deputy Minister, the Odysseo edition already wrote about the relationship between Abkhazia and Vladimir Putin’s Russia – your largest commercial partner. What would you say to those who imply that Russia will repeat the “Crimea operation” with Abkhazia?

Crimea – is primarily a population of 2.5 million people, who decided to hold a referendum and be reunited with their historical homeland – Russia. Abkhazia is a population of 242 thousand people, who held a referendum in 1999 at which was adopted the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia (Apsny) as a sovereign, democratic, legal state, which has historically embraced the right of peoples to self-determination. Abkhazian people regained their freedom and independence in 92-93 and wish to live in peace and friendship with all neighbors as a sovereign and independent state.

You studied in Italy and know well the current realities in Italy and Europe. What do you think about the current crisis of the European institutions, I refer to the closure of borders and building new walls to deal with refugees?

I always try to look for the positive side in any situation. The crisis itself is a risk, but on the other hand in times of crisis people awake slumbering forces within themselves. Thus, the crisis could be an opportunity to find new ways of solving the problems of the country, in other words – progress. As for the refugees – it is a very complex issue that requires in-depth analysis. One thing is certain, that it will be impossible to close from all countries in today’s world of total globalization, no matter how hard you try. Whatever happens in one country will be reflected in many other countries. As they say in Italy: “The whole world is one country” and in this case it is true.

Tell me about the economic situation in the Republic of Abkhazia? What goals your Republic has set itself in the new year?

Economy of the Republic of Abkhazia is developing despite the global economic crisis. Each year the country’s economic indicators are growing, particularly due to the large flow of tourists, as well as the development of agriculture (oranges, tangerines, kiwi, etc.).

I would say that we are a dynamically developing country, strengthening its sovereignty and international positions. The main objectives of the Republic of Abkhazia at this stage are: strengthening and development of relations with the main strategic partner – the Russian Federation, increasing the number of countries to recognize the Republic of Abkhazia as a sovereign and independent state, participate in the economic processes related to Eurasian integration, development and strengthening of contacts with countries to recognize the Republic of Abkhazia and of course, promote the idea of ​​peace and stability in the South Caucasus.

On the night of the 13 to the 14 of January, you celebrated the Abkhazian New Year. You always tried to preserve your traditions, as well as the native Abkhazian language.

Abkhazia can be proud of its rich history. Abkhazians had their own kingdom already in the VIII century, and Christianity came to Abkhazia in the I century BC, through the two apostles of Christ – Simon the Zealot and Andrew Chrysostom. Officially Abkhazia became a Christian country in the VI century BC. Relations with Italy originate from the Roman Empire and continue with merchants from Genoa and Venice. Today in Italy know little or nothing about Abkhazia, but we are working hard to fill the lack of information about Abkhazia, for example by means of your Odysseo edition.

We can talk a lot about our traditions, but there is one specific thing that unites all Abkhazians, regardless of their religious and political views. We call it Apsuara, that is, roughly speaking, abkhazship. Apsuara is a kind of knight’s code of honor, a lot of unwritten laws and rules of conduct by which we manage to preserve our traditions and ancient language.

As you told me, Italy is your second home. In that case, can you explain why Italy has recognized Kosovo and not Abkhazia? Would you like to address with a message the representatives of state structures of the country in which you have studied?

Let us begin with the fact that in international politics there is the concept of double standards. The Republic of Abkhazia is a victim of double standards. Kosovo, with all due respect to my Kosovar friends, never had their own state, but it was quickly recognized by the international community, whereas Abkhazia, which has been the Principality, then the Kingdom, and today the Republic, which is one of the few democracies in the former Soviet Union, the State, which for more than 20 years proves all its functionality with its parliamentary and presidential elections and etc., has been denied this right. Indeed it is hard to find arguments that impede the recognition of Abkhazia as a sovereign and independent state. In this case, it is safe to say that the show is run by geopolitical reckoning, not international law, according to which the Republic of Abkhazia is a full-fledged state.

Expressing gratitude, Mr. Deputy Minister, I would like to dedicate to you the words of the Russian writer Lermontov (1814-1841), who has described the beauty of Caucasus more than anyone else:

“Silent night, desert harks to God, and stars talk to each other. In heaven is solemn and wonderful! And I do not regret the past at all; I’m looking for freedom and peace!”

Leggi l’intervista in italiano.

Leggi l’intervista in russo.