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A historic moment in Vanuatu-Abkhazia relations, by Joshua Keating

Foreign Policy Blog

Game changer?

Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation that lies about 1,500 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, has become the fifth country to recognize Abkhazia’s independence, agreeing to set up diplomatic relations with the self-declared republic, according to a May 27 statement on the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another separatist region of Georgia, declared independence after a five-day war between Russia and the former Soviet satellite state in August, 2008. Only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, another country in the South Pacific, recognize their independence. Georgia maintains Russia occupied the two regions after the conflict.

One wouldn't want to understate the significance of the milestone in Abkhazia's quest for international legitimacy, but Vanuatu can be fickle when it comes to interntaional recognition questions. It briefly recognized Taiwan in 2004 only to switch back to recognizing Beijing only a month later. Apparently there was some drama at the time:

[Then Prime Minister Serge] Vohor was also accused... of physically assaulting China's new ambassador, Bao Shusheng, by punching him on the shoulder after he complained that the flag of Taiwan was still flying in a hotel.

In general, Vanuatans seems to be pretty open-minded to new states. They recognize Kosovo and Palestine as well.

Source: Foreign Policy

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