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De facto official: Sukhumi plans to offer direct flights to Israel

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, April 26
The de facto Abkhazian government is planning to offer Israel the chance to begin direct flights, web portal reported quoting Beslan Eshba, the de facto advisor of the so called Abkhazian Prime Minister. Eshba named Israel as one of the “most prioritized” directions in this respect, together with Russia and Turkey, according to

“This issue was preliminarily discussed with our Israeli partners, who visited Abkhazia,” the advisor to the de facto Prime Minister said, referring to Israeli holding Global CST. The representatives of the holding visited Georgia’s breakaway region last week. According to Eshba, the de facto Abkhazian government has been “actively working” on launching the exploitation of a renovated airport in Sukhumi. He said the opening of the airport is planned by summer 2012.

Georgian lawmakers have commented on the statements of Beslan Eshba, saying that any state which will decide to launch flights in Georgia’s occupied regions, will have a “serious opponent” in Georgia. Ruling National Movement Party MP, Nugzar Tsiklauri said he does not expect that any “well-known and serious” air company will carry out flights to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “However if something like this happens, Israel or any other state should know that it might find a “friend” for its financial interests becomes a serious opponent,” Tsiklauri stated.

The Georgian MP noted, that according to the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), member states of this organization have no right to fly on the territories which are occupied and which have no legitimate government. “This is a matter of prestige for a country and also all companies know, that ICAO will put serious sanctions for flying to occupied Abkhazia or Tskhinvali region,” Tsiklauri added. The lawmaker said Georgia is holding “active diplomatic works” for avoiding “such developments.”

The de facto authorities however have downplayed the criticism of Tbilisi. “It seems that they still do not understand that economic development cannot be ensured by threats and sanctions. The outdated attitudes should be revised – if the whole world has understood that the methods of cooperation with the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be sought. However they [Tbilisi] seem not to have realized this so far,” Beslan Eshba told journalists.

Meanwhile the Abkahzian media reported about the planned visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Georgia’s breakaway region. According to Apsnypress, on April 26 Lavrov is expected to meet the de facto Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh and other representatives of the de facto government. Later, the Russian Foreign Minister will visit the construction works funded by Moscow, according to the official spoksman of the de facto Abkhazian President, Kristian Bzhania.