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‘Countdown Started for Return to Abkhazia’ – Saakashvili Says

Georgia wants to restore its territorial integrity through peaceful means, “but our patience is not endless,” President Saakashvili said on October 5.

He was speaking in the western Georgian town of Zugdidi, a few kilometers from the breakaway Abkhaz border, at the launch of a state-funded radio station, Voice of Abkhazia.

“We Georgians are a very patient people,” he said. “But I want the world to hear this: our patience is on the point of exhaustion.”

He said that Georgia was step-by-step moving towards reclaiming Abkhazia.

“Today we are starting the countdown for the return of Abkhazia,” Saakashvili told a crowd gathered in the center of Zugdidi. “We restored control over Upper Abkhazia [upper Kodori Gorge] last year – the heart of Abkhazia. It was our first step on our way back to Abkhazia. From there we overlook Sokhumi. Today we are back on Abkhaz airwaves – this is the second step forward.”

“Our next step will be made in the place where all the Georgian books from the local school were burned last year – it was in the center of Gagra [a town in Abkhazia].”

“We will be back in Abkhazia; the question is when? Soon.”

Saakashvili indicated that Tbilisi was ready to compromise, but not at the expense of territorial integrity.

“We are offering to negotiate with the separatists, but negotiations should be bilateral and equal,” he said. “We can give much, but before negotiating on any issue, the first thing that must be said is: Abkhazia is part of Georgia!”

Saakashvili reiterated his refusal to accept a recent UN recommendation to remove a state-sponsored youth ‘patriotic camp’ from the village of Ganmukhuri, close to Abkhaz-controlled territory.

“No matter how many resolutions are passed or recommendations made, not a single Georgian will leave the Enguri River, Ganmukhuri,” he said.

In September Saakashvili said Georgia did not need international organizations’, and in particular the UN’s, as he put it, “amoral and meager recommendations.”

Saakashvili also called for unity and recalled the political turmoil in Georgia in the early 90s, which, he said, led to the loss of Abkhazia.

The president arrived in Zugdidi shortly after returning from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where he had attended a CIS summit.

“I’ve spent all day at the CIS summit, with Vladimir Putin [the Russian president] and with other leaders from the CIS member states,” Saakashvili told the crowd in Zugdidi. “But there is nothing better than being with you.”

Before his trip to Dushanbe, Saakashvili suggested that he was planning on meeting Putin on the sideline of the summit. No such meeting, however, took place.

At the summit Georgia refused to sign a concept paper outlining a development plan for the CIS.

“Today, when we refused to sign one of the CIS documents, I recalled how my predecessor [ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze] signed the Moscow Agreement [in 1992] which led to the loss of Gagra; then he signed the Sochi Agreement [in 1993] which led to the loss of Ochamchire and Gali [towns in Abkhazia],” Saakashvili said in Zugdidi. “There will be no more capitulation.” 

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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