Abkhazia’s Shamba Calls for Legalizing Trade with Tbilisi

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Sergei Shamba, former “foreign minister” of Abkhazia, who now serves as the head of the security council of the occupied region, called for “legal trade” with Tbilisi, stating that official commercial relations with Georgia proper could provide financial funds to the Abkhaz treasury.

In the January 30 interview with the Abkhaz TV, Shamba said that the entire income from the traded cargo and goods flowing across dividing line with Tbilisi-controlled territory goes to the individual dealers, who benefit from the existing regime and, therefore, oppose “legalization of the process” with Georgia proper.

Abkhaz security council head also noted that this “illegal” trade network is being operated “even in the difficult times of COVID-19.” Shamba stated that despite “the closed borders,” Georgian goods can still be found in the Abkhaz markets.

“The only way here is to legitimize this trade,” Shamba went on, adding that people opposing the legalization of trade ties do so “because obviously, they are strongly interested in this trade to bypass the treasury.”

Shamba’s comments sparked criticism among Abkhaz pro-opposition outfits. An influential group of Abkhaz war veterans “Aruaa” said today that an official trade between Sokhumi and Tbilisi will be “the beginning of the end of our [Abkhaz] state.”

“Aruaa” threatened that they will demand the resignation of Shamba should he continue “lobbying” the trade question with Georgia proper.

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