Georgia will never put up with someone biting off pieces of its territory
President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili starts looking into the matter of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia. Saakashvili and Abkhazian leader, Sergei Bagapsh, discuss Abkhazia's future. The two presidents say that they are ready to conduct a political dialogue, although it is already clear that Georgia and Abkhazia have different approaches to the status of Abkhazia.
The Georgian president announced his readiness to grant a variety of rights to Abkhazia and South Ossetia within the scope of the Georgian federation. Mikhail Saakashvili specified that it goes about the European, not the Soviet model of the federation. The rebellious republics, therefore, will have an opportunity to enjoy the autonomy. The central authorities will be in charge of foreign, defense, financial and customs policies.
On the other hand, the Georgian president strongly rejects a possibility of establishing a confederation. Mikhail Saakashvili delivered quite an emphatic speech on the matter on Monday: “I hear some saying that we should say no to the return of refugees to Abkhazia, that Abkhazia will not be a part of Georgia and that we should organize some sort of a confederation. I will never agree upon it – I will not do such a stupid thing,” Saakashvili said.
The Georgian president also stressed out that Georgia had nothing to yield to Abkhazia, from where the Georgian population had been expelled: “The people of Georgia have been ousted from their own houses there. Some people from Russia are living there now, although they have absolutely no right for it,” said he.
Saakashvili warned Russian people against acquiring property on the territory of Abkhazia and called upon them to recollect the experience of some of their country-fellows, who had purchased property in Adzharia: “Where is this property now, where are those people and where is their friend Aslan Abashidze? They used to purchase apartments in Batumi, but Abashidze is now staying in their apartments and country-houses in Moscow,” the Georgian president stated.
One should remind in this respect that Mikhail Saakashvili promised to sink vessels with Russian tourists in Abkhazia. Saakashvili released such a harsh statement in the summer of 2004, during the peak of the holiday season. It was later explained, though, that Saakashvili's statement had been misinterpreted.
Mikhail Saakashvili also said that the Georgian government would never put up with the fact that “someone will be biting off pieces of our territories, for we are a small country anyway.” “We are not inviting separatists to return to Georgia. We are going to return to Abkhazia ourselves,” said he.
Sergei Bagapsh, the elected President of Abkhazia, stated during his press conference on Tuesday in Moscow that future of Abkhazia would be about independence. It is noteworthy that Bagapsh said in one of his interviews, which was published in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, that he would strive for Abkhazia's incorporation in the Russian Federation exercising its rights as an associated unit. Russian officials apparently decided not to stir up another conflict with Georgia, taking into consideration Mikhail Saakashvili's forthcoming speech at PACE session in Strasbourg. Sergei Bagapsh was not mentioning anything about Abkhazia's membership in the Russian Federation afterwards, giving first priority to the economic cooperation issue instead.
Commenting on Mikhail Saakashvili's statement about Georgia's unwillingness to establish a confederation with Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh stated that Abkhazia was not afraid of such statements: “If someone wants to go at war – it is their business,” said he. Nevertheless, the Abkhazian leader does not exclude a possible personal meeting with Saakashvili. The meeting will become possible only if the sides elaborate certain decisions for a peaceful regulation of the current situation. “We are always ready to negotiate with Georgia,” the Abkhazian leader said.
Spokespeople for the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia expressed their readiness to conduct a dialogue with Georgia too. The latter, however, did not like such a dialogue at all. The foreign ministry released an official statement for the Georgian administration, in which it was said that the question of Abkhazia's recognition was in the interests of both Abkhazia and Georgia. According to the Abkhazian foreign ministry, Georgia's recognition of Abkhazia as an independent state will bring more stability to the region than any attempts to make Abkhazia become a part of Georgia. Such attempts may only stir up another conflict, officials of the Abkhazian Foreign Ministry believe.
Thus, Georgia and Abkhazia expressed their mutual indignation and assured each other of their willingness to negotiate. The story will most likely have its development in the nearest future, when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will talk about his “revolutionary” plan to regulate the crisis with Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the coming session of PACE.