Georgian officials, opposition leaders and ordinary Georgian citizens commemorated the 26th 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, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said that September 27 “is the most difficult, most painful day for each and every citizen of modern Georgia. Let me repeat, for modern Georgia, regardless of a generation, it is the day, when Sokhumi fell 26 years ago, on September 27.”
“Of course, we have learnt a lot since then, both we and the Abkhaz have grown up since then, much unites us; we are united by the feeling that war was our greatest tragedy,” PM Gakharia said.
He also noted that “each of us should realize that war is no solution; round-the-clock work, building the country, democratic institutions, strong Georgia, united Georgia – this is what we should do together.”
Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili stressed the need of a dialogue and steps towards confidence building. “Let us think once again, what this conflict, the current situation, the occupation has brought, how we all suffered,” she said, noting the need of taking reciprocal steps.
Gia Baramidze of the United National Movement said that “this is one of the most painful days for our country… when Russian occupation forces used all means at disposal, as well as separatist forces from North Caucasus and invaded Sokhumi… But our country did not fall along with the fall of Sokhumi.”
Davit Bakradze, leader of the European Georgia party, noted that “September 27 is the day, which clearly reminds us of the evil called Russian occupation.”
Tbilisi dispatched troops to the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in summer 1992 to protect the Abkhazia section of the Russian-Georgian railway.
The government troops were forced to withdraw from the region in September 1993, following the attack on Sokhumi on September 16, 1993, 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.