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Alasania Plans Abkhaz Negotiations

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 29
Our Georgia – Free Democrats has recently increased the frequency of statements regarding dialogue with the occupied regions of Georgia. In the main, this concerns Abkhazia. According to the statements made by the leader of the party Irakli Alasania, the new leadership of Abkhazia is “pro-Abkhazian” but Georgia can still negotiate with it and achieve serious outcomes.

“Currently, there is different situation in Abkhazia. Of course, those elections held there were not legitimate, as hundreds of refugees were unable to participate in it, however, it was the choice of those living in Abkhazia now and I respect this choice,“ Alasania stated and described the current de facto leader of the region, Alexander Ankvab, as someone “with whom, the Georgian side should launch negotiations. It is very important that a pro-Abkhaz leader will be the negotiator. Speaking with Ankvab and achieving real results are possible.”

Alasania also paid attention to the new de facto Prime Minister, Leonid Lakerbaia and mentioned that, “Lakerbaia understands the problems the de facto region is facing currently very well, I know this man, we have frequently talked, and he is also a man with whom serious negotiations are possible.”

The party has already launched the “Abkhaz Organization of Free Democrats,“ which aims at the regulation of the conflict.

It is difficult to say whether the Abkhaz side will agree to negotiations or not, especially when there was no suggestion of this officially from the Georgian side. After the inauguration of the president in Abkhazia, Ankvab appointed Lakerbaia as prime minister on September 27, replacing Sergey Shamba who was runner-up in last month’s snap presidential election. Lakerbaia is a veteran of Abkhaz politics who held various positions in the breakaway region’s government since the early 1990s.

The Georgian government has already assessed the election in breakaway Abkhazia as a “cynical act.” At the same time, Georgian officials and certain members of the opposition believe that Ankvab will not oppose Russian wishes in the region. They believe that former Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh was killed by Russian criminal groups, which had failed to seize land plots in Abkhazia, and that whoever comes into power in the region would share the fate of Bagapsh if they refuse to obey Moscow’s orders and relinquish Abkhaz lands to the Russian leadership. The only salvation for Abkhazia, according to them is to return back to Georgia’s fold.

Alasania's statements have been positively assessed as absolutely the right position by conflict analyst, Malkhaz Chemia, “there are different factors in this issue. Alasania has personal reserves to fulfill what he promised as Abkhazians know and respect him. At the same time, starting negotiations should be a vector for all political forces in the state,“ the analyst told The Messenger and explained that negotiations with Abkhazia is more difficult than with South Ossetia, as Abkhazia is an indigenous part of Georgia and must be treated as equal within the state. “Alasania knows this very well and he can do this, however despite the personal factor there are some another very serious element, which is Russia. Before launching negotiations with Abkhazia, a balanced policy is needed with Russia, or foreign bodies should make Russia enable Georgian- Abkhazian representatives to talk face to face, without a third party,“ Chemia said and mentioned that such kinds of negotiations should start without preconditions.