Abkhazia–Vanuatu relations

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Abkhazia–Vanuatu relations
Map indicating locations of Abkhazia and Vanuatu



Bilateral relations between Abkhazia and Vanuatu were begun when Vanuatu recognised Abkhazia's independence on 23 May 2011. On that day a joint statement on establishment of diplomatic relations was signed.[1][2] However, the exact nature of the recognition was a matter of dispute and was not regularized until July 2013.

Vanuatu was the fifth UN member state to recognize Abkhazia and the first not to also recognise South Ossetia's independence.


Initial establishment of relations[edit]

On 23 May 2011, President of the People’s movements Nagriamel and John Frum, Paramount Chief Te Moli Venaos Mol Saken Goiset issued a statement of recognition to the People of Abkhazia.[3] A week later, the Government of Vanuatu offered its condolences to Abkhazia over the passing of President Sergey Bagapsh. Vanuatu assured the Government of Abkhazia that the foundations laid by the late President in establishing political and economic relations between the states would continue to prosper.[4] The same day, in an interview with Russia Today Maxim Gvinjia, the Abkhaz Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that the Pacific nation of Vanuatu had recognised Abkhaz independence and had established diplomatic relations with the State.[5][6][7] According to the Abkhaz, the diplomatic note establishing diplomatic relations was signed on 23 May 2011, and at the same time of signing a visa-free travel regime between the two countries was established.[8][9]

Denial of recognition of Abkhazia[edit]

On 3 June 2011, Donald Kalpokas, the Permanent Representative of Vanuatu to the United Nations, in a telephone interview with the New York Times denied that recognition of Abkhazia by Vanuatu had taken place, and stressed that the country had relations with Georgia, not with Abkhazia.[10] Gvinjia responded the following day that recognition of Abkhazia by Vanuatu was documented, with the diplomatic documents having been signed by both nation's Prime Ministers on 23 May 2011.[11] Gvinjia later told Voice of Russia that an announcement by the government of Vanuatu would be forthcoming on 6 June 2011. The Abkhaz Foreign Minister confirmed that the exchange of the diplomatic document had taken place by air, and was negotiated in secret over a period of several months.[12]

First reconfirmation of relations[edit]

On 7 June 2011, the Vanuatu government confirmed recognition of Abkhazia,[13] and a copy of the joint statement on the establishment of diplomatic relations, signed by Prime Ministers of Abkhazia Sergey Shamba and of Vanuatu Sato Kilman, was released.[1][2]

Cihan Candemir, president of the Federation of Caucasian Association in Turkey (KAFFED), the world's biggest organization of Abkhaz diaspora, sent a greeting message to the Prime Minister of Vanuatu saying, "On behalf of the KAFFED in Turkey You warmly congratulations to recognition [sic] independence of Abkhazia by Vanuatu. We realize that it was a difficult decision and I really admire your courage in taking the historical decision that further strengthened the independence of Abkhazia".[14]

Withdrawal of recognition by interim Prime Minister of Vanuatu[edit]

On 19 June 2011, the new interim Prime Minister Edward Natapei announced that he was withdrawing Vanuatu's recognition for Abkhazia, and that he would seek to establish relations with Georgia, recognising Georgia's sovereignty over Abkhazia.[15][16][17][18] However, a week later Sato Kilman was re-elected Prime Minister.[19]

Second reconfirmation of relations[edit]

In a note dated 1 July 2011, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu, Alfred Carlot, informed the government of Abkhazia that the Cabinet of Vanuatu had "voted in favour of supporting the Republic of Abkhazia in establishing diplomatic and financial ties". The note also reiterated that the original memorandum signed on 23 May by the Prime Ministers of both countries "remained in force despite earlier announcement".[20] Carlot later reconfirmed Vanuatu's recognition of Abkhazia, and expressed Vanuatu's "desire to establish diplomatic relations with Abkhazia".[21]

On 12 July 2011 the Ambassador of Abkhazia in the Asia-Pacific region, Juris Gulbis, stated that Abkhazia and Vanuatu plan to sign a framework agreement on cooperation in the field of culture, trade and the banking sector. According to him, the Government of Vanuatu twice confirmed the establishment of diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and of their intention to contribute to the development of friendly ties between the two States.[22]

On 7 October 2011, the Vanuatu government again confirmed their diplomatic relations with Abkhazia.[23]

Exchanges between Abkhazia and Vanuatu[edit]

On 30 July 2011, the Abkhaz Minister of Foreign Affairs, sent a congratulatory note on the occasion of the Independence Day celebration in Vanuatu, reading "I would especially like to note a positive trend that emerged in the relations between our countries. I hope that our relationship will continue to grow stronger and develop in the same beneficial way."[citation needed]

On 28 September 2011, Te Moli Venaos Mol Saken Goiset, Ambassador designate to Abkhazia from Vanuatu, congratulated the new Abkhaz President Alexander Ankvab on his inauguration.[24]

Denial of formal relations[edit]

On 18 March 2013, Johnny Koanapo, Vanuatu Director-General of Foreign Affairs, stated that diplomatic relations had never been established with Abkhazia. He said that "There’s been a confusion over what the government had intended to do which was just simply a letter stating that there might be an intention to establish relations with Abkhazia. But at this point in time, there’s no action on that and there’s no decision".[25][26][27]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia responded with a statement claiming that they had "not received any official notification of the severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries" and that the "recognition of the Republic of Abkhazia is irreversible".[28][29]

On 20 May 2013, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, Vaunatu's PM, confirmed that Vanuatu had withdrawn its recognition of Abkhazia.[30][31][32] However, the next day the Deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Irakli Khintba, responded by saying that no decision to cancel diplomatic relations between Abkhazia and Vanuatu had been taken, and that Kalosil's statements were only his personal point of view which was not the result of an official decision by the government.[33][34]

Current status of relations[edit]

On July 12, 2013 Georgia and Vanuatu signed an agreement on establishing diplomatic and consular relations. The agreement, which was signed at the United Nations headquarters, states: "the Republic of Vanuatu recognizes territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, including its regions - the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia." [35] The Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Viacheslav Chirikba, responded by claiming that Vanuatu had not officially withdrawn its recognition of Abkhazia.[36]

Diplomatic relations are progressing. Mrs. Te Moli Venaos Mol Saken (Thi Tam) Goiset, one of the strongest proponents of Vanuatu recognition of Abkhaz independence was appointed Ambassador of Vanuatu for Abkhazia and other countries, including Russia.[37] Business relations have been established and Abkhazia plans to export wine to Vanuatu.[38] Travel between the two states to facilitate the introduction of the visa-free regime.

International agreements[edit]

  • Joint statement on establishment of diplomatic relations[1][2]
  • Visa-free travel regime agreement[9]
  • Agreement on cooperation in the field of culture, trade and banking sector (in the preparation)[22]


  • Vanuatu Ambassador to Abkhazia: The Roving Ambassador of Vanuatu to Russia and the Eastern Countries - Te Moli Venaos Mol Saken (Thi Tam) Goiset[24][39][40]
  • Abkhazia Ambassador to Vanuatu: The Ambassador at Large of Abkhazia in the Asia-Pacific region - Juris Gulbis,[41] based in Fiji


  1. ^ a b c "Верительное факсимиле". Kommersant (in Russian). 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-07. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "Joint Statement On Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of Vanuatu". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  3. ^ "People's Movements Nagriamel and John Frum (Vanuatu) issue recognition to the people of Abkhazia". Abkhaz World. 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  4. ^ "Vanuatu offers condolences to Abkhazia over passing of president Bagapsh". Abkhaz World. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Vanuatu recognizes Abkhazia independence - Abkhaz ministry". Moscow. RIA Novosti. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  6. ^ "On the establishment of diplomatic relations between Republic of Abkhazia and Republic of Vanuatu". Sukhum: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  7. ^ "Независимость Абхазии признали острова Вануату" (in Russian). BBC Russian. 2011-05-31. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2011-06-04. 
  8. ^ "Abkhazia & Pacific". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  9. ^ a b "Visa-free regime is launched between the Republic of Vanuatu and the Republic of Abkhazia.". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2011-05-31. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-06-04. 
  10. ^ Barry, Ellen (2011-06-03). "Vanuatu Recognizes Abkhazia. Or Maybe Not.". New York Times. p. A4. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-06-04. 
  11. ^ "МИД Абхазии: признание Абхазии Вануату подтверждено документально" (in Russian). Sukhum: RIA Novosti. 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2011-06-04. 
  12. ^ Mamanov, Roman (2011-06-04). "Vanuatu-Abkhazia: recognition via air". Voice of Russia. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2011-06-04. 
  13. ^ "Vanuatu government confirms recognition of Abkhazia". Radio New Zealand International. 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  14. ^ "KAFFED'den Vanuatu Cumhuriyeti Başbakanı ve Abhazya Cumhuriyeti Başbakanı'na mesaj" (in Turkish). Kafkas Dernekleri Federasyonu. 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  15. ^ "Natapei withdraws recognition of Abkhazia". Vanuatu Daily Post. 2011-06-20. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  16. ^ "Vanuatu new gov't annuls Abkhazian recognition". Trend News Agency. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  17. ^ "Relationship with Vanuatu is still discussed in Abkhazia". Experts' club. 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  18. ^ "Vanuatu, Abkhazia play out odd couple farce". Georgian Daily. 2011-06-21. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  19. ^ "Kilman elected Vanuatu PM - ten days after ouster by court". Radio New Zealand International. 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  20. ^ "Memorandum dated 23 May 2011 is valid". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  21. ^ Ligo, Godwin (2011-07-14). "Minister says oil an issue over non recognition of Abkhazia". Vanuatu Daily Post. Retrieved 2011-07-14. 
  22. ^ a b "Абхазия и Вануату в ближайшее время планируют подписать соглашения о сотрудничестве в области культуры, торговли и банковской сфере" (in Russian). Apsnypress. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  23. ^ "Vanuatu’s recognition to the Republic of Abkhazia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Vanuatu). 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  24. ^ a b "Te Moli Venaos-Goiset, Ambassador designated to Abkhazia from Vanuatu, congratulates President Alexander Ankvab on his inauguration". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2012-01-05. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Vanuatu admits confusion over Abkhazia link". Radio New Zealand International. 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  26. ^ "Abkhazia: Vanuatu Changes Its Mind Again". EurasiaNet.org. 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  27. ^ "Confusion lingers over Vanuatu’s links with Abkhazia". Radio New Zealand International. 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  28. ^ "Заявление МИД Абхазии в связи с информацией об отзыве признания Республики Абхазия со стороны Республики Вануату" (in Russian). Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  29. ^ "Абхазия опровергает слухи об отмене признания Вануату" (in Russian). Apsnypress. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  30. ^ "Vanuatu scraps recognition of Georgia breakaway region". 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  31. ^ "Georgia Says Vanuatu Has Withdrawn Recognition of Abkhazia". Bloomberg. 2013-05-20. 
  32. ^ "News". President of Georgia. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  33. ^ "Распространенное грузинскими СМИ сообщение об отзыве Вануату официального признания Абхазии является не более чем фантазией Президента Грузии" (in Russian). Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  34. ^ "МИД Абхазии: отказ Вануату от признания Абхазии - фантазия Саакашвили" (in Russian). RIA Novosti. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  35. ^ http://civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=26273
  36. ^ [1]
  37. ^ "People's Movements Nagriamel and John Frum (Vanuatu) issue recognition to the people of Abkhazia". Abkhaz World. 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  38. ^ "Abkhazia plans to export wine to Vanuatu". Baku Today. Retrieved 2012-01-05. [dead link]
  39. ^ "Goiset shortlisted for Roving Ambassador". Vanuatu Daily Post. 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  40. ^ "Goiset becomes first Roving Ambassador to Russia". Vanuatu Daily Post. 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  41. ^ "Representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abkhazia). Retrieved 2013-03-28.