Neutral travel documents for Abkhazians receive mixed response
By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, June 22The Georgian Education Ministry offers funding for higher education in Georgia and overseas to those residents of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia who have obtained Georgia’s neutral travel documents or identification cards. The ministry’s statement said that grants would be available “in framework of various educational programs” upon the initiative of the Georgian government.
The international community meanwhile is gradually recognizing the neutral travel documents. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State said during her recent visit to Georgia that the US would start accepting Georgia’s neutral travel documents.
De-facto Abkhazian officials however have slammed Tbilisi’s initiative, alleging that Tbilisi has simply created a trap for Abkhazians. Deputy Foreign Minister of breakaway Abkhazia, Irakli Khintba, while commenting on the acceptance of neutral documents by Washington, said that Georgia’s neutral travel documents and identification cards were “a trap” through which Tbilisi “wants to lure” Abkhazians back to the Georgian fold. “We are confident in the choices of our citizens and we hope that they understand how dangerous this proposal is by Georgia. We are sure that our citizens who have went through a bloody war and brutal blockade and who have managed to establish an independent state, will never accept these documents,” said Khintba.
The local news agency Apsny Press reports that the de-facto President of breakaway Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab, told Czech Republic Ambassador to Georgia, Ivan Jestrab, that the relations between Sukhumi and the West “are now in a kind of stagnation,” adding that the Western countries should realize that Abkhazians will never return to Georgia.
During the visit of Czech Ambassador to Sokhumi, the de-facto Abkhazian PM told Czech diplomats that it would have been better to visit Abkhazia before recognizing the neutral travel documents. The Czech Republic became the second country after Japan that has recognized the so-called neutral passports.
Some Abkhazian residents however are more positive about the neutral documents, especially those who come from mixed families. One of them is Tina Kiyut, who also comes from a mixed family. She has decided to continue her education at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts. According to her, the Georgian education environment is very attractive, as there is no corruption within the education field.