De facto Abkhazian officials slam Georgia’s strategy on its occupied regions
By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, February 4The de facto Abkhazian authorities have refused to discuss Georgia’s strategy on the occupied regions, calling it “instruction on how to regain Abkhazia” and an “attempt to slightly bribe” the Gali population, the news agency Apsnypress has reported.
Speaking with de facto Abkhazian officials on Tuesday secessionist President Sergey Bagapsh said that the Abkhazian side “will not even talk about this issue.” “In response to this programme we will restrict movement at the border along the river Enguri and will not let them [the Georgian side] create a “fifth column” in the Gali region,” Bagapsh said. He called on law enforcers to be more vigilant concerning people who “might be suspected of cooperating with Georgian special agencies.”
“We are ready to talk with international structures if they will assist the Gali population via Abkhazia. If it is done via Georgia, we will eliminate this by all possible means,” the de facto Abkhazian President said.
Abkhazia is not an occupied territory, the de facto Abkhazian Foreign Minister, Sergey Shamba said. “We assess this document as a plan to return Abkhazia back to Georgia,” the de facto Minister stated.
Georgian officials had been trying to hand the strategy to the Abkhazian delegation members at the 9th round of Geneva talks on January 28, de facto Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba said. “The representatives of the Abkhazian side declared that they were not even going to read it, and warned that if the Georgian side offered to hand over this strategy during Geneval talks again the Abkhazian delegation will leave the negotiations,” Shamba noted.
Meanwhile the Georgian Government has started presenting the strategy to international organisations. Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili has left for Strasbourg to introduce the document to Council of Europe representatives. The Georgian delegation has presented the strategy to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The document, drafted by the Reintegration Ministry and approved by the Government on January 27, envisages restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity through peaceful means. The Reintegration Ministry is planning to draw up a specific action plan based on the strategy document by the end of June.
“We are dealing with open aggression and occupation. There is a threat that Russia will annex these territories. This document is a response to this and a vision of what the Georgian Government is planning to do in relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Minister Yakobashvili said.
“We have written in the document that the de-occupation of these territories should happen only through peaceful means. We do not want war; we are not getting ready for war. We think that the strategy will seriously assist the peaceful de-occupation of these territories,” Yakobashvili added. The Georgian Government will introduce the document to NATO, OSCE and EU officials, he noted.
The negative reaction to the strategy from the de facto authorities was expected, some analysts suggest. “The document offers many projects for developing Georgia’s occupied regions, eliminating the ethnic catastrophe that they are now facing. So it is not a document favourable for only the Georgian Government, which will not put up with the disintegration of the Georgian territories, it is first of all favourable for the people living in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region,” analyst Gocha Gvaramia told The Messenger.
The refusal of the de facto officials to even read the strategy is the result of Kremlin influence, the analyst said. Gvaramia hailed the document, saying that it does not represent only the vision of the Georgian Government but also the vision of experts from different political platforms. “Not only is the Georgian Government content with the strategy, but also international organisations and foreign states,” he said.