Georgian leaders on August 14 marked the 28th anniversary of the launch of a 13-month long armed conflict in Abkhazia in 1992.
Gela Giorgadze and Irakli Gogiberidze, President Salome Zurabishvili’s advisors in defense and security, and conflict affairs, respectively, took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Tbilisi’s Heroes Square on behalf of the Georgian President.
Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who laid wreaths at the memorial of Georgian fallen soldiers together with newly-appointed Reconciliation Minister Tea Akhvlediani, said, “occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region is a common tragedy for Georgians, Abkhaz and Ossetians.”
“This – [Russian occupation] – is not a permanent process, and it will end with a peaceful de-occupation. We are well aware of the price of peace, and believe that reuniting Georgia through peaceful means has no alternative,” Minister Garibashvili added.
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia commented on the conflict anniversary in Gurjaani – where he attended the presentation of ruling Georgian Dream party’s majoritarian candidate Davit Songhulashvili – noting that “today is the day to remember our past that is weighing heavily on us.”
“28 years ago today an armed conflict started in Sokhumi,” PM Gakharia went on, “this very day marks the beginning of Georgia’s [Russian] occupation.”
“There are two ways – of peace and [hard]-work – to follow in order to [overcome Russian occupation]. There are no other ways here. We should build a successful, democratic state with a strong economy so that we become attractive for our [Abkhaz, Ossetian] brothers,” the Prime Minister maintained.
Tbilisi sent troops to the Abkhaz Autonomous Republic on August 14, 1992 with the stated official reason to protect the Abkhaz section of the Russian-Georgian railway. Georgian troops were forced to withdraw from Abkhazia in September 1993.
12,000 people were reportedly killed during the 13-month armed conflict and around 300,000 persons, mainly ethnic Georgians, were ethnically cleansed from the region.