Abkhazia accuses Georgia of Black Sea piracy

By bne IntelliNews July 17, 2013

bne -

The government of the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia has issued a statement protesting the seizure of several cargo ships travelling to and from the disputed territory and branding Georgia a Black Sea pirate.

The foreign ministry of the Republic of Abkhazia - a self-declared independent state unrecognized by the vast majority of the world's governments - says Georgian coast guards have detained three Turkish cargo shops within the last six months. The most recent incident was on July 10, when the cargo ship Pasha, which had a Turkish captain but was flying the Tanzanian flag was detained.

The ship was sailing from Abkhazia's Black Sea port of Ochamchire to Bartin in Turkey. Its captain and crew have since been released, with the captain charged GEL50,000 ($30,230) bail by the Poti City Court, Civil Georgia reports.

Two previous incidents took place in March and May, according to the ministry. The statement describes the detention of the three ships as an "act of international piracy and infringement of the principle of freedom of the seas."

"Now we have to state the resumption of piracy of Georgia in neutral waters of the Black Sea. These aggressive actions, whose purpose is the provision of political and economic pressure on Abkhazia, are aimed at destabilizing the situation in the region," the statement claims.

Under Georgian law, no economic activities are allowed in Abkhazia or the fellow separatist republic of South Ossetia, without permission from Tbilisi. However, this legislation is ignored in both republics, which have been de facto independent since the early 1990s. Since the end of the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia the independence of the two self-declared states has been recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Tuvalu.

In 2009, four Turkish cargo ships were detained by Georgian coast guards. However, following complaints from Ankara - one of Tbilisi's main trading partners - the vessels were released.

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