Acting Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Tea Akhvlediani addressed the Parliament on December 22 during new old Government confirmation hearings, discussing among others Tbilisi’s dialogue with Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.
“We are ready to expand the platform of informal dialogue and cooperation with the Abkhaz and Ossetian communities based on common interests,” the Reconciliation Minister hopeful highlighted.
These, should be done in a depoliticized manner, serving to address various humanitarian and human rights issues and achieving welfare for the population, she asserted.
Noting that the sides have in fact never quit dialogue, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the acting Minister said Tbilisi, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali have amassed a number of “positive experiences” of cooperation via dialogue.
She expressed her confidence that the process will continue, with all existing non-formal channels of communication being intensified and effectively used to address the issues of common interest.
“Our efforts will aim at diversifying these channels [of communication] so that every segment of society is involved in the dialogue,” the acting Minister concluded.
The “foreign ministry” of occupied Abkhazia reacted on December 23 to Akhvlediani’s remarks, saying that Acting Minister’s statements only imply that Tbilisi’s approaches to Abkhazia “remain unchanged.”
According to the statement, “Tbilisi perceives Abkhazia exclusively as a ‘community,’ ‘de facto regime,’ ‘occupied territory’ and so on,” which only leaves a possibility of an “informal” dialogue in the Minister’s perspective. Sokhumi does not intend to lead “this kind of dialogue” with Tbilisi, it added.
Abkhaz “foreign ministry” noted that Sokhumi may consider a possibility of talks only “if Tbilisi radically revises its course” towards Abkhazia, agrees a document on the non-use of force “between Abkhazia and Georgia” within the framework of the Geneva International Discussions, and leaves the policy of Abkhazia’s international isolation.
Akhvlediani’s remarks come as Kremlin-backed Abkhaz authorities have recently been reiterating calls for dialogue with Tbilisi. Not everyone in Abkhazia are in favor of these calls however, with hardliner opposition politicians in Sokhumi putting up a fierce fight against newly adopted “foreign policy concept” over its clauses involving the prospects for dialogue and normalization of ties with Tbilisi.