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Abkhazia intends to unilaterally restore Georgian monuments

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, March 27
Several days ago, Abkhaz President Alexander Ankvab announced he intends to restore Georgian monuments on his territory, but Georgian experts worry that these artifacts are still in danger.

Ankvab gave an order to his relevant government offices to prepare recommendations on the restoration of monuments, including Bedia and Mokvi.

Gocha Gvaramia, member of the Experts’ Club, suspected a “Kremlin trail” behind Ankvab’s decision. He believes it is Russia, not Ankvab himself, who has instituted this policy of restoration. Gvaramia worries that this will lead to a final eradication of Georgian monuments, churches, and monasteries in the breakaway region, remarking that this is the same policy Russia has enacted in Georgia's other disputed territory, South Ossetia.

Representative of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, Giorgi Gagoshidze, said it is illegal for the unrecognized state to give such orders. “And if Ankvab’s promise is fulfilled, we will have more damaged monuments on the list of Georgian architecture and culture,” he said. The Agency is responsible for preservation, protection, research, and promotion of the Georgian cultural heritage.

Georgia plans to raise the issue at the Geneva talks, in order to intensify international engagement on this matter. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nino Kalandadze stressed the need to inform the international community about Ankvab's decision, so that they may find a rapid solution and protect Georgian monuments from possible damage.

Kalandadze noted that the Georgian government is already actively cooperating with international organizations responsible for cultural heritage preservation.