The restoration of Georgian-Abkhazian relations was one of the main topics raised by opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili during a meeting with Samegrelo residents on September 22.
New plan to facilitate trust between Georgia and Abkhazia
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Modnay, September 24
Ivanishvili underscored that his team is planning to restore a railway and highway to the de facto region.
“The step will open the way for Georgians and Abkhazians to the Russian market. Opening these avenues will create a positive effect in the revival of our economy,” Ivanishvili said.
According to Ivanishvili, the railway will also provide Abkhaz businessmen the chance to develop their businesses and will encourage them to participate in the Georgian economy.
The second message expressed by Ivanishvili pertained to the Gali district; Ivanishvili proposed that they make the predominantly Georgian-populated district in the breakaway region “a reconciliation bridge between Abkhazians and Georgians.”
“We will offer the Abkhazians the opportunity to make the Gali district a region of peace. We will launch public diplomacy and we will definitely return the Abkhaz people’s trust in Georgia,” Ivanishvili said, adding that only the developed and powerful Georgia can facilitate Abkhaz interest in reintegrating with the homeland.
Ivanishvili also emphasized that the coalition has concrete ideas on how IDPs can be returned to their original regions.
The coalition leader also spoke about the recent prison scandal, highlighting the fact that those videos represent only a small portion of the illegalities and abuses committed on behalf of the current Georgian leadership.
“In the case that Saakashvili does not take my advice and does not resign, he [Saakashvili] will get worse…” Ivanishvili stated and appealed to the Georgian population to maintain maximal patience. The opposition leader stated that wrecking the elections is in the interest of the current administration.
“The government will try to exploit the current agitation in people [stemming from the prison scandal] to off-track the elections. We should not let the government to do this. The elections should be held as planned,” Ivanishvili said.
Conversely, Prime Minister of Georgia, Vano Merabishvili, says that the chief aim of the administration is to hold free and transparent elections, “which will be ensured by the Interior ministry.” Merabishvili underscored that the ministry has enough experience and resources to ensure this goal.
“Georgia's police have proved that it can avoid any kind of violence and enable people to make a free choice,” Merabishvili stated.
Majority representative, Akaki Bobokidze, believes that “just because the government made some errors, does not mean that Georgians will vote for Ivanishvili.”
“There are currently some individuals in Ivanishvili’s team that also participated in such acts of violence while being in power,” Bobokhidze said.
According to political analyst Khatuna Lagazidze, "the fact that Bacho Akhalaia (former Interior Minister) resigned, means that the government has emphatically said no to violence during the election period; this was a message to the international community. However, when the government is in collapse, it is difficult to forecast how it might act,” she said.
She also pointed out that the current situation presents a serious “exam” for the Georgian Dream coalition.
“The scandal has grown and so have the ratings of the coalition. It depends on the coalition now on how it will manage to handle the situation,” Lagazidze stated.