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Abkhazia

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Abkhazia is a region on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus whose status is disputed. It considers itself an independent state (the Republic of Abkhazia), but this is recognised only by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, and by South Ossetia and Transnistria, the last two of which are themselves in a situation similar to Abkhazia.

The Georgian government and most of the world consider Abkhazia part of Georgia's territory. In Georgia's official subdivision it is an autonomous republic (Georgian: აფხაზეთის ავტონომიური რესპუბლიკა, apkhazetis avt'onomiuri resp'ublik'a, Abkhaz: Аҧснытәи Автономтәи Республика, Apsnitwi Avtonomtwi Respublika), whose government sits in exile in Tblisi. On 28 August 2008, the Parliament of Georgia passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia a "Russian-occupied territory".

The status of Abkhazia is a central issue of the Georgian–Abkhazian conflict. The wider region formed part of the Soviet Union until 1991. As the Soviet Union began to disintegrate towards the end of the 1980s, ethnic tensions grew between Abkhaz and Georgians over Georgia's moves towards independence. This led to the 1992–1993 War in Abkhazia that resulted in a Georgian military defeat, de facto independence of Abkhazia and the mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population from Abkhazia. In spite of the 1994 ceasefire agreement, and years of negotiations the status dispute has not been resolved, and despite the long-term presence of a United Nations monitoring force and a Russian-dominated CIS peacekeeping operation, the conflict has again flared up on several occasions. In August 2008, the sides again fought during the South Ossetia war, which was followed by the formal recognition of Abkhazia by Russia, the annulment of the 1994 cease fire agreement and the termination of the UN and CIS missions.

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