Georgia's new Defense Minister is known for his extremely tough approach to the problem with Abkhazia
The new President of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh, took the office on Saturday. The ceremony, which was held in the republic's capital, Sukhumi, marked the end of the political opposition that lasted for several months. Now the new president of Abkhazia will have to face numerous social and economic problems. The political problem – Abkhazia's relations with Georgia - is the most important one of them.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said at the end of January, before his departure to the PACE session, that Georgia would return to Abkhazia. The head of state did not specify, how exactly Georgia was intended to do it. During his speech at the PACE session, Saakashvili presented a plan to regulate relations with South Ossetia by means of granting the status of a wide autonomy to it. The Georgian president did not offer anything similar to Abkhazia – it was simply said that one should resume negotiations on the matter. Abkhazia is ready to talk, although things will most likely be left as they are. The new Georgian administration perceives Abkhazia as an integral part of Georgia. The Abkhazian administration, in its turn, agrees to negotiate only if Georgia acknowledges the independence of the republic.
It is not ruled out that Georgia may try and use a military way of solving the problem. Georgia's new Defense Minister, Irakli Okruashvili, is known for his extremely tough approach to the problem with South Ossetia and Abkhazia – a conflict is more than just possible. It was Okruashvili, who incited armed clashes in South Ossetia last summer. The official was not dismissed from the position for those actions afterwards – he chaired the Georgian Department of Defense instead. Okruashvili believes that his prime goal of the post is to run a profound army reform. The events in South Ossetia proved that Georgia was not ready for the conflict despite the ongoing army reform with the USA's active participation in it.
The new administration of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia is ready to face any development of events, according to President Sergei Bagapsh. The president obviously hopes that Russia will come to help the republic in the event a military conflict with Georgia occurs. “Do not forget that 80 percent of our people are citizens of the Russian Federation. Like any other superpower, Russia must defend its citizens, if their lives are engendered,” Sergei Bagapsh said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
Photo: The Flag of Abkhazia graphic