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Abkhaz ready to begin dialogue with future administration

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 27
Georgia is deeply involved in pre-election campaigning and it looks like the Abkhaz de-facto leadership is also interested in this issue. The de-facto Prime Minister of the Abkhazian separatist government Viacheslav Chirikba, stated in his interview to an Italian magazine that his administration was watching closely the developments unfolding in Georgia, and hopes to find a way to cooperate when the ruling power changes in Georgia.

This caused a controversial reaction here in Georgia. Opposition Georgian Dream leaders commented with satisfaction that this proves the oppositionists’ constructive and promising resolution of conflicts on Georgian territory. On the other hand, the ruling administration used this as yet another piece of evidence that the opposition coalition has a pro-Russian course.

Abkhaz officials highlighted the pragmatic approach of Georgian opposition leaders. The statement was unexpected for Georgians, as just some time ago Abkhaz separatists accused Georgians of conducting terrorist activities on their territory; they also prevented the Abkhaz population who sought refuge for humanitarian reasons– including medical treatment, from entering Georgian-controlled administrative territories. Thus this form of communication became dangerous for separatist leaders.

The analysts keep asking what Chirikba's position means and particular why he personally mentioned Ivanishvili and Alasania as pragmatic people they communicate with. Is this done to support or to discredit them? His statement can be interpreted differently. The ruling power in Georgia used this kind of controversy by interpreting Chirikba’s statement as a way to discredit Georgian Dream leaders. Georgian officials commenting on Chirikba’s statement highlighted that this statement contains hints that damage Georgia’s sovereignty and national interests.

There are other comments however that suggest that Abkhaz separatists don’t trust Saakashvili and his administration. On the other hand they already have problems with Russians who suppress the Abkhaz identity, so therefore Abkhaz leaders need urgently to communicate with Georgia again. Besides, Abkhaz representatives have said repeatedly and expressed openly their sympathy towards Irakli Alasania, starting from the period when he was working as Saakashvili’s personal representative concerning the conflict in Abkhazia.

As for the dialogue with Abkhaz separatists, they could raise any issue while avoiding the topic of the territorial integrity of Georgia– this could entail economic cooperation, the return of refugees or humanitarian cooperation. However, all these topics are still difficult and controversial. In addition, there is the question mark as to whether the Abkhaz indeed can make decisions independently without Russian endorsement.

As for the formula “we will not speak with Saakashvili”? It’s not based on original Abkhaz knowhow; it originated from the Putin-Medvedev position. What does indeed stand behind Chirikba’s statement in reality is very difficult to guess until the results of the elections are known, and only in the case of an opposition victory in Georgia can possibility proceed.