Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Madrid takes control of Catalan public broadcaster

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Seoul: 'Time running out to prevent a nuclear N. Korea'

Read more

THE DEBATE

City power: The growing clout of big urban areas

Read more

FOCUS

Was Chilean poet Pablo Neruda murdered?

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: To 'Joon Moon' and back

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Japan's stocks on record winning streak after Abe's election victory

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

The pine cone line: A train ride through rural Provence

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

David McAllister: 'EU involvement in Catalonia could set a precedent'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Glyphosate: Should the EU re-authorise the weedkiller chemical?

Read more

REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2016-09-30

Video: Abkhazia, the country that (almost) doesn't exist

To the outside world, it’s a country that does not exist. Or almost. Although Abkhazia seceded from Georgia and declared independence almost a quarter of a century ago, only a handful of countries recognise its existence, among them its powerful neighbour Russia. Our reporters returned to this small Caucasus republic, once nicknamed the "Pearl of the Black Sea", seeking international recognition.

At the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, Abkhazia is a small territory of 240,000 inhabitants wedged between Georgia and Russia. At the time of the Soviet Union, it was an autonomous republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. After the fall of the Soviet bloc in 1992, Abkhazia declared independence, at the cost of a war lasting over a year against the Georgian rulers. The conflict claimed the lives of over 15,000 people and led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Georgians. A trauma still remembered today.

Sixteen years later, in August 2008, when Georgia and Russia went to war for five days, Russia formally recognized Abkhazia, as well as South Ossetia, another breakaway republic of Georgia just a few thousand kilometres away. Tbilisi denounced a "blatant annexation" of its territory. This Russian recognition was quickly accompanied by a strengthening of Russia’s military presence and increased investment, including through the signature in 2014 of an "alliance and strategic partnership".

In the shadow of Moscow

Although the recognition of Abkhazia by Russia gives it a form of protection and economic development, it has more than anything made the small republic dependent on the Russian giant. Today, the Abkhazian state is recognized only by three other countries apart from Russia: Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, a micro-state in the Pacific ... For the rest of the world, it is part of Georgia.

Our reporters visited this small piece of land with a subtropical climate and lush nature, once nicknamed the "Pearl of the Black Sea" and a favourite holiday destination of the Soviet intelligentsia. They met war veterans, politicians, businessmen and Russian tourists, and looked at how this tiny self-declared republic that lives in the shadow of Moscow is trying to evolve and assert its identity.

By Pierre LASCAR , Ilione SCHULTZ

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-10-20 Europe

Video: In St. Petersburg, legacy of Nazi siege lives on

As Russia’s cultural hub, St. Petersburg delights millions of tourists every year. Founded by Peter the Great, the city was renamed Petrograd during World War I then Leningrad...

Read more

2017-09-28 Asia-pacific

Video: Indian city of Pondicherry proud of its French touch

Our reporters returned to the Indian city of Pondicherry, in the Gulf of Bengal, a former trading post of the French East India Company. Fifty-five years after it was handed back...

Read more

2017-09-15 Asia-pacific

Video: Dried-up Aral Sea springs back to life

Straddling the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest saline lake in the world, an inland sea of 66,000 square kilometres. But in...

Read more

2017-09-01 Nigeria

Shadow of Nigeria’s Biafra war still looms large, 50 years on

On May 30, 1967, General Emeka Ojukwu declared Nigeria’s southeastern Biafra region an independent state, sparking what would become a bloody civil war that claimed more than one...

Read more

2017-07-07 Americas

From Rust Belt to Tech Belt: US city of Youngstown set on reinventing itself

The US city of Youngstown, in the state of Ohio, once symbolised the glory days of the "Steel Belt", an industrial area in the northeast. For decades, the US steel industry put...

Read more