Alexander Ankvab, head of government in Russian-occupied Abkhazia told Sokhumi-based Apsnypress media outlet on August 13 that “we consider all Georgians living in Abkhazia, who did not fight against us as our citizens.”
Ankvab noted that “we consider it unfair to deprive them of their Abkhaz passports. This is our internal affair.”
Ankvab’s comments came in response to Voice of America’s recent piece which focused, among others, on Abkhaz security council head Sergei Shamba’s statements on the citizenship issue in ethnic Georgian majority Gali district in Abkhazia.
According to the statistical data available in Sokhumi, as of 2018, 30,259 persons – with their absolute majority being ethnic Georgians – lived in Gali district. Sokhumi stripped the majority of them off ‘Abkhaz citizenship’ in 2014 and in 2017 and started issuing residence permits to them, depriving Gali residents of their political rights.
Constructive Attitude Towards Tbilisi?
VOA’s piece that prompted Ankvab’s comments also featured former Georgian Reconciliation Minister Paata Zakareishvili, who suggested that current Abkhaz leadership is known for its “constructive” attitude towards Tbilisi.
Responding to Zakareishvili, Ankvab said, “none of the former and current leadership of Abkhazia has ever called for a war with Georgia but for agreements on the non-resumption of hostilities towards a peaceful neighborhood,” adding that “we are talking about this now. Abkhazia will not discuss the issue of its independence with anyone.”
“And if these two firm positions” – citizenship in Gali and non-resumption of war with Tbilisi – “are viewed by someone as a ‘constructive attitude’, then they are right,” Abkhaz government head maintained.
Ankvab slammed Zakareishvili’s statement – which suggested that current Abkhaz leadership is “less pro-Russian” than predecessor Khajimba’s administration – as “ridiculous.”
“There were no such leaders in the Abkhaz political space, and there are none. This fully applies to president Bzhania, Ankvab, Shamba, and Khajimba,” Ankvab underscored.