De-Facto Leader of Occupied Abkhazia Talks Relations with Tbilisi, Moscow with Russian Media

In his interview with the Russian media outlet “Arguments and Facts,”, the de-facto leader of the Russia-occupied Abkhazia Aslan Bzhania discussed relations with the rest of Georgia as well as the Russian Federation. According to him, “we do not experience any aggression towards the Georgian people” and “it is important the state of Abkhazia to be recognized by Georgia”. Bzhania claimed that destinies of the occupied territory and Russia are “inseparable”.

When asked whether he thinks the occupied territory will make peace with Georgia, he replied that “someday, probably, this will happen. And we would even like this to happen in the near future”.

However, he added that “we understand that there is opposition in Georgia – and, probably, politicians cannot follow the path of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia. When the Georgian government comes to this, all questions will be resolved.”

He drew comparisons with the historic relations between France and Germany, and the former USSR and Germany. “The French and the Germans became friends. And the USSR became friends with Germany. But what’s the difference? In both cases, Germany admitted its guilt and its defeat”, Bzhania said adding: “I don’t want to demean anyone in any way. But the reality is, the facts are such that objective reality must be recognized.” Meanwhile, he brushed away the question about the fears of the Abkhaz of colonization by Russians (the journalist question was linked in particular to the apartments’ law controversy), saying that it’s “silliness” and that only marginal part of the Abkhaz society expresses such views.

Responding to a question about the fears of the Abkhaz people, who are worried about Russia’s growing influence in the occupied territory, and the increasingly common opinion that Abkhazia doesn’t need Russia and Russians, he said that “the war against Abkhazia has not stopped”. He claimed that “the fighting ended in 1993, thanks to the Abkhazian armed forces we ensured peace. But the special services are fighting for the minds of our citizens.They plant their ideas, and not only in Abkhazia, but throughout the entire former USSR”.

As for the relations with Russia, he said “it is in the interests of our citizens – Abkhaz, Russians, Armenians, that friendship with the Russian Federation strengthens and improves. We have no other way, and we are not looking for one”. He especially stressed the need for investments for the development of the region, saying: “In order to create jobs for them [unemployed in Abkhazia], 400 billion roubles should be invested in the economy of Abkhazia, while our annual budget is only 14 billion roubles. Russian and Abkhaz businessmen in the Russian Federation and Turkey are ready to finance this.”

Bzhania promised that the entry into Abkhazia from Russia will become easier, answering the question about the delays on the crossing points,s aying “we all also want to make border crossing like in Russia and Belarus. But for such a pass regime, we must be part of the Union State. We are not there yet…but we wish it would happen.”

He also said there is a lot of work being done to open the Sokhumi airport adding: “We’ll see next year.” Responding to a question whether Russian tourists could fly in from Moscow and St. Petersburg directly in 2025, Bzhania said: “Yes, it is quite possible.”

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


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