Trade, Trust, and De Facto State Conflicts: Abkhazia’s International Economic Engagement

Popular scientific article
International economics  Trade  Conflict  Russia and Eurasia
Written by

Tamta Gelashvili

Junior Research Fellow (part time)


Helge Blakkisrud

Senior Research Fellow (part time)


Pål Kolstø

Professor, UiO

Pål Kolstø

Professor, University of Oslo


Does trade really foster trust? In the case of conflict-torn regions, developing trade links is often believed to contribute to transforming conflict or even facilitate peacebuilding. However, when it comes to de facto states—states with no or limited international recognition—the relationship between the two may not be quite as straightforward.

A closer look at Abkhazia, a de facto state in the contested neighborhood between Russia and the EU, shows that trade can thrive even in a post-conflict situation where mutual distrust is high. However, as long as trade occurs informally and in the shadows, it does not help in building trust at the state level.