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Georgia Marks 30 Years Since the Fall of Sokhumi

National flags are lowered to half-mast at government buildings as Georgia commemorates the 30th anniversary of the fall of Sokhumi on September 27, 1993, marking the end of armed conflict in Abkhazia in 1992-1993.

To honor the victims, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the Cabinet Ministers, Mayor of Tbilisi, opposition leaders as well as the members of public have paid tributes at the memorial of the fallen Georgian soldiers on Tbilisi’s Heroes Square. 

“This war has left a devastating mark in our country – ethnic cleansing has turned hundreds of thousands into refugees in their own homeland and, most lamentably, many of our compatriots have tragically fallen victim to it,” the Prime Minister is quoted in a statement published by the Government Administration. “The de-occupation of the Russia-occupied regions and the country’s unification remain the main challenge facing our state and society,” Garibashvili added, and reiterated Georgia’s commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi and the General-Secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party wrote that “peace and development have no alternative” for the reunification of Georgia.

Tea Akhvlediani, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality said this day is the embodiment of Georgia’s “immeasurable pain…reviving the tragic history of hundreds of thousands, which was caused by Russia-instigated military actions in the 90s.” Akhlediani also recalled the years of mutually respectful and peaceful coexistence of the Georgian and Abkhazian peoples, which she said was the basis for building lasting peace and reconciliation.

The opposition also reacted to the anniversary. According to Irakli Pavlenishvili of the United National Movement (UNM), “today we have a chance not to waste this dedication of spirit and a chance to use this geopolitical reality and restore out territorial integrity.”

The European Georgia’s Giga Bokeria commented saying that Russia carried out military aggression and committed genocide against Georgians but this fact was wrongly classified as ethnic conflict. According to Bokeria, Georgia now has a prove its truth.

Aghmashenebeli Strategy’s Giorgi Vashadze noted that the reunification of the country is the highest value, and the main factor on this path is the strength of Georgia within the EU and the NATO.

The US Embassy in Georgia also reacted, saying that “on the 30th anniversary of the fall of Sukhumi to Russian-backed forces, the Chargé D’ Affaires Alan Purcell and the U.S. military personnel honored the memory of tens of thousands who died. In addition to the countless lives lost, this tragedy resulted in hundreds of thousands of people losing their homes. We remember September 27, 1993, the day of the fall of Sukhumi.”

Tbilisi dispatched troops to the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in summer 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 has occurred in violation of the July 27 ceasefire that envisaged 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 to this day.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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