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Abkhaz opposition objects to Georgians becoming Abkhaz

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Wednesday, August 5
On August 3 breakaway Abkhazia’s opposition appealed to separatist leader Sergey Baghapsh to refuse to sign the proposed amendments to the law on citizenship and not allow ethnic Georgians living in Gali district to claim Abkhaz citizenship. Their statement was released by Abkhaz news agency Apsnypress, which reported that it was signed by the Forum of Abkhaz People’s Unity, Aruaa, a union of Abkhaz war veterans, and the Akhatsa public movement.

Apsnypress reports that under the amendments passed by the Abkhaz Parliament on July 31 those Georgians who returned to Gali before 2005 can obtain the ‘citizenship’ of separatist Abkhazia. “According to these new amendments all citizens of Gali district are acknowledged as citizens of Abkhazia,” the statement reads. “Parliament has ignored all the dangers for our country posed by such steps. From this moment the number of ethnic Georgian citizens of Abkhazia is as great as the number of ethnic Abkhaz.” The Abkhaz opposition think that says that through this amendment “all have became equal – those who fought for Abkhaz independence and those who supported the Georgian colonial interest.”

The signatories of the opposition statement claim that this decision has been made due to the upcoming Presidential elections, as the authorities are trying to gain the votes of ethnic Georgians living in the Gali district. “The Members of Parliament who voted for this [amendment], have laid the foundation for a new wave of colonisation of Abkhazia by Georgians… Because of their efforts we will again become the minority in our motherland,” the statement reads.

Speaker of the Abkhaz Parliament Nugzar Ashuba has responded to the statement by saying that only those residents of the Gali district who had not participated in military hostilities against Abkhazia in early 90s would be eligible for citizenship. “It will not happen. Only those citizens of Gali district who have not participated in military activities and have not taken part, and do not take part, in changing the sovereign status of the Republic of Abkhazia by anti-Constitutional methods will be considered as Abkhaz citizens.

“There is talk about the people who were obliged to leave their homes but have now returned under the decision to permit the unilateral return of IDPs to the Gali region. Just those persons are now able to take Abkhaz passports,” Ashuba said in an interview with Apsnypress on Monday, highlighting that only those persons who returned before 2005 will now be able to claim passports, a total of no more than 50,000. He added that residents of the Gali district would have to renounce their Georgian citizenship in “written form” to obtain Abkhaz citizenship.