Georgian officials and opposition leaders commemorated the 25th anniversary of the fall of Sokhumi on September 27, 1993, marking the end of armed conflict in Abkhazia in 1992-1993.
Speaking at the wreath laying ceremony at the memorial of fallen Georgian soldiers in Tbilisi, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said the occasion “reminds us of the pain that is associated with the fall of Sokhumi, and that every day of our life should be devoted to liberating Sokhumi and Tskhinvali from Russian occupation.”
Defense Minister Levan Izoria, who also visited the memorial of fallen soldiers, said the fall of Sokhumi is “a common tragedy” for the Abkhaz and Georgians “caused by the Russian aggression.” “Today, our obligation is to do our utmost for peaceful de-occupation of the country and for ensuring our shared well-being,” the Defense Minister added.
Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili echoed the messages, saying the war 25 years ago had “no winners” and that the pain is shared by both – the Abkhaz and Georgians.
“We feel the pain of those who lost their loved ones, of those who live in displacement and cannot return to their homes, and of those who are in their homes, but are deprived of future, of hope and of prospects for development,” Tsikhelashvili stressed, describing the current state of affairs in Abkhazia as “nothing else but a foretold chronicle of Russification.”
The ruling party-endorsed presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili, who visited the memorial together with Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, said as president she will spare no efforts to implement her constitutional authority in protecting “the Abkhaz language and identity, and the country’s territorial integrity.”
Zaal Udumashvili of the United National Movement visited the memorial as well, telling reporters that September 27 “is a day when we pay our respects to fallen heroes, and a day which reminds us that occupation remains to be the country’s most painful problem.”
Davit Bakradze, the European Georgia’s presidential candidate, traveled to Zugdidi in western Georgia and visited the Enguri Bridge, which connects Abkhazia with the rest of the country.
“Today is one of the most tragic days in our history, the date, which reminds us that peaceful unification and de-occupation of our homeland, should be the main priority for every citizen of Georgia, and especially the politicians,” Bakradze stressed, adding that with his visit on the occupation line he wanted to send a message that “we will not tolerate occupation.”
The government troops were forced to withdraw from the region in September 1993, following the attack on Sokhumi on September 16, 2013, by Abkhaz militants and mercenaries from the Russian Federation. The attack has occurred in violation of the July 27 ceasefire that implied the withdrawal of heavy Georgian weaponry from Sokhumi and its surroundings.
September 27 is associated in Georgia with the loss of control over Abkhazia and the ethnic cleansing of Georgians that occurred in that region. Reportedly, more than 12,000 people died during the armed conflict. Around 300,000 remain displaced.