The Georgian Foreign Ministry condemned the visit of the leader of occupied Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, to Belarus on February 20, saying that “the said action blatantly violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within the internationally recognized borders and is an attempt to legitimize the Russian occupation regime”.
The statement of February 21 stresses that the visit “violates the fundamental principles and norms of international law.”
It reads: “We call on Belarus to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders and to cease taking the actions, which contradict the fundamental principles and norms of international law.”
Bzhania’s visit to Belarus and meeting with Alexander Lukashenko were yesterday ‘strongly condemned’ by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, who said that ‘this is another clear violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity’.
The President also recalled Lukashenko’s visit to occupied Sukhumi in September 2022, stressing that it was a “disregard of the law on the occupied territories of Georgia”.
Bzhania’s visit to Belarus
The leader of occupied Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania arrived in Minsk from Moscow on February 20 on a “working visit” and met with the leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. According to Bzhania’s “administration”, the parties discussed the activation of bilateral cooperation.
Speaking to the media after the meeting Bzhania said he welcomed the arrival of tourists from Belarus. He also noted that he had signed the decree on the extension of visa-free travel for Belarusian citizens.
In return, according to Lukashenko’s government, the Belarusian leader noted that his country was always interested in cooperation with Abkhazia. He also recalled his visit to Abkhazia last year, saying that the Georgian authorities had reacted harshly to his visit. “Isn’t it possible for there to be normal, cordial and friendly relations between people? Maybe these relations will be able to promote peace and friendship between Abkhazian and Georgian peoples.”
Lukashenko also noted that he was monitoring the ongoing processes in Georgia. In this context, he mentioned the imprisoned Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, saying that what was happening around him “does not look good because he was once was a President after all.”
Earlier, in September 2022, Lukashenko arrived in Sukhumi and discussed with Aslan Bzhania the issues of bilateral cooperation, trade and economic relations, the current situation in the international arena, current challenges and threats. At the time, the Georgian President and the Foreign Ministry condemned Lukashenko’s visit to Abkhazia and called on Belarus to respect Georgia’s territorial integrity.
Even earlier, in February 2022, Lukashenko said in an interview with Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyov that he would not rule out recognizing the independence of the two occupied regions of Georgia, “as soon as I understand and the president [Vladimir Putin] tells me that it is necessary.” At that time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia said that the recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region by Belarus was not on the agenda.
It is worth noting that in 2009, one year after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Belarus considered recognizing the occupied territories of Georgia. In the end, however, Lukashenko did not take this step. He explained his decision by saying that Moscow refused to share the negative consequences, including sanctions, that Belarus expected from the West if it recognized the two regions.
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