Russian deputy reminds Georgia of its legal obligations to Ajaria

Russian deputy reminds Georgia of its legal obligations to Ajaria

ITAR-TASS news agency
22 Mar 04

Moscow, 22 March: Chairman of the State Duma Committee on
International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev expressed satisfaction today
that the conflict between Georgia and Ajaria “is returning from the
hot phase to, at least, cold phase and is possibly even moving towards
a peaceful settlement.”

At the same time, the deputy stressed that the only regulatory
statute, the Kars Treaty of 1921, which stipulates Ajaria as being an
autonomous republic within Georgia, is still in force and its
provisions must be honoured. The treaty on friendship between Turkey,
on the one hand, and Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, on the other,
with the participation of Russia, was signed in 1921.

Kosachev expressed concern over the treaty’s various interpretations
of late, “starting from statements by several official representatives
that it [treaty] is no longer in force down to statements by Turkish
representatives that it gives Turkey the right to use military force
if the legal status of Ajaria is violated”. All these statements are
legally wrong, the deputy reckons.

The Kars Treaty, he stressed, continues to be in force since it was
concluded indefinitely. Moreover, the Potsdam Conference documents,
establishing the principle of the world’s post-war arrangement, make
references to it. And, finally, there is the definitive position of
the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which stipulates
that if a treaty regulates borders, there can be no references to
changed international circumstances [presumably: as reasons for
varying the treaty provisions].

Kosachev also recalled that under the Kars Treaty, Turkey renounced
its claims on Ajaria; Ajaria reappeared within Georgia as an autonomy
on two conditions. Firstly, Georgia commits itself to provide Ajaria
with full-scale autonomy – cultural, religious, national – up to the
granting of the right to adopt its own laws. Secondly, Georgia commits
itself to ensure unimpeded transit through the seaport of
Batumi. These two conditions, Kosachev emphasized, continue to be in
force along with the Treaty as a whole.

“Thus, the steps recently taken by Georgia to resolve the conflict
with Ajaria through the use of force, and in particular through
blockading the seaport of Batumi, are in direct conflict with the
law”, he concluded.