Georgian officials, opposition leaders, and ordinary citizens commemorated the 29th 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 President Salome Zurabishvili said that September 27 is “the most tragic day in the history of independent Georgia.” “But mourning is not enough; mourning is necessary to know what our past is. But we cannot live with grief. We should live in the future, and I am sure that this future will bring us a lot and very quickly,” President Zurabishvili noted.
PM Irakli Garibashvili wrote on his Facebook page that “the war has turned hundreds of thousands of people into IDPs and what is most regrettable, took the lives of a lot of our compatriots.”
“Since then, Georgia’s unification is our key goal and it is based on our belief that living in a united, strong, developed country is the best perspective for our people,” the Prime Minister stressed.
In this context, he stressed the importance of the peace process, dialogue, and cooperation, adding that the “future belongs to the unity, peace, and welfare of Abkhaz and Georgian peoples.”
State Minister for Reconciliation, Tea Akhvlediani, who also paid tribute to fallen soldiers, said that “we should stand together in strengthening peace especially after the world clearly saw Russia’s large-scale aggression against a sovereign state.”
“We should turn today’s tragic date into a symbol of peace building and peaceful co-existence in united Georgia, in the spirit of historical unity that will definitely lead us to our common welfare in the future,” she added.
Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze described September 27 as “a huge pain for Georgia,” when Georgian soldiers strongly resisted the enemy. “We are now recollecting and once again analyzing the events that took place 29 years ago,” he added.
Georgian Parliamentary Chairman Shalva Papuashvili wrote on his Facebook page that “Georgia faced Russian occupation and aggression long ago and it continues not only in our country but also in our friendly country, Ukraine. We remember the blood shed by our heroes and the struggle for our homeland.”
“With our peace policy, we will return to each other and, together with our Abkhaz sisters and brothers, we will continue to build a united, independent, and European Georgia,” he added.
Tbilisi dispatched troops to the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in the summer of 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 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.