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Sukhumi accuses Tbilisi of “politicising” the IDPs issue

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, September 16
Tbilisi is politicising the issue of returning IDPs to their homes, the de facto Abkhazian Foreign Minister, Maxim Ghvinjia has claimed. “Meanwhile, the Georgian side does not care about the welfare of the people,” he said at the meeting with the Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kaelin in Sukhumi, according to Apsnypress information agency. “Mass return of the IDPs to the Abkhazian territory might aggravate the situation in the region,” he said.

Ghvinjia criticised the resolution on IDPs adopted at the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, saying that the document “totally ignores” the position of the Abkhazian side on the IDPs issue. “This resolution is identical to the previous versions of the document adopted in 2008 and 2009,” Ghvinjia stated.

The Georgian side is not speculating on the IDPs issue, officials in Tbilisi have said, downplaying the claims of the de facto Abkhazian Foreign Minister. There are specific norms of the international legislation, defining why the IDPs should return to their homes, Abkhazian Government in-exile officials stated.

“About 300 000 people were forced to leave their homes as a result of the ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia, conducted by Russia with other’s hands,” the head of the Cabinet of the Abkhazian Government-in-Exile, Besik Silagadze told The Messenger “What should we do with these people? Should we not care about their rights? The international legislation envisages that the situation in Abkhazia should go back to the pre-war situation and the IDPs should return to their homes. We are not demanding anything that is not outlined in the international norms,” he stated, adding that if the de facto authorities are not content with this fact, they can apply to the international court.

As for Ghvinjia’s allegation, that the UNGA resolution “ignores” the interests of the Abkhazian side, Silagadze said that “It is the Russian side which has not acted in the interests of the Abkhazian people.” “Mr. Ghvinjia has simply voiced the position of the Kremlin. Georgia is not ignoring the interests of any party, the IDPs want to go back to their homes. They are not going to grab anyone else’s property in Abkhazia. If Mr. Ghvinjia meant the interests of the people who have seized the houses of the IDPs in Abkhazia, he must be quite mistaken. All of those people will have to bear their part of the responsibility,” the head of the Cabinet of the Abkhazian Government-in-Exile said.

Meanwhile, the Russian officials announced their intentions to start regular railway and sea trips between the Russian Federation and Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia. “The first irregular train routes between Adler and Gagra were launched earlier in June, as well as the ferry routes between Gagra and Sochi. However, we should discuss how we can make this regular,” Russian Vice Prime Minister, Sergey Ivanov said on September 15, according to RIA Novosti news agency. “This is especially important now due to the increasing number of tourists flowing into this republic from the Russian Federation thanks to the reasonable prices and good quality of services,” he noted, adding that the Ministry of Transport of Russia is “actively” discussing the proposal.

The Russian government’s plan to start regular railway and sea connections between Abkhazia and Russia is not a surprise, Tbilisi officials stated. This is part of Russia’s assimilatory policy in Abkhazia, Besik Silagadze said. “Moscow deployed its troops in this region and built its military bases there: Abkhazia has actually become Russia’s fort post. At the same time the Kremlin is conducting economic expansion in Georgia’s breakaway region,” he noted “Abkhazia has become a ‘black hole’ for the international community, endangering the security of the whole region. The Abkhazian legitimate government, together with the Georgian Government, has been fighting and will continue fighting to bring all these problems to the surface and to inform the international community about the situation there,” Silagadze stated.