Government officials at the heroes memorial. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (center). Defense Minister Irakli Alasania (right). (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Today, 20 years have passed since the fall of Sukhumi. The war in Abkhazia in 1992-93 ended after 13 months and 13 days.

The war resulted in the death of about 6 000 combatants from both sides and about 20 000 civilians, and ended with the capture of Sukhumi on September 27, 1993. 300 000 refugees were left homeless, more than thousand are still missing.

The de facto government of Abkhazia celebrates ‘victory over Georgia and Independence Day’ on September 30, when Russian-Abkhazian troops captured positions on the River Enguri.

The Tbilisi-based government of the autonomous republic of Abkhazia on Friday issued a statement in connection with the 20 years that have passed, addressed to the Abkhazian people.

“It is hard to support Abkhazians on the grounds of completely unsuccessful processes around Abkhazia for 20 years and after Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia on August 26, 2008,” it reads. “What we can be proud of today is the civic heroism of our fellow citizens, which is their patience, spiritual and physical strength and political culture.”

The statement expresses condolences to the families that are victims of war and expresses support to the refugees. It calls on government structures working with IDPs and refugees to prepare a new strategy to solve the Abkhazian conflict and solve the social issues of the refugees expressing hope that ‘historical justice will be restored and Abkhaz and Georgian people will live in peace.’

Different events are planned all over Georgia in relation with the 20 years since the war. Prime Minister Ivanishvili and other government officials visited the memorial of heroes in Tbilisi.

“It is a shame that in the twenty-first century we have to live on different sides of conditional and made-up dividing lines,” the PM said. “We must manage by friendship and love to restore relations.”

He said the government is doing everything to become an honorable member of the European family.

“Everything depends on us. We must open our hearts to our Abkhaz brothers,” he added. “They must come and they must cross the so-called border to the other side.”

Also at the memorial was US ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland, who said that normalization of the situation after 20 years is his personal interest. He said he was in Sukhumi 20 years ago with a delegation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the predecessor to OSCE. He recalled that president Eduard Shevardnadze instructed them to go to Sukhumi in August and evaluate possible threats to the city and help averting them. But, Norland said, international efforts weren’t enough. He also expressed hope that the recent border demarcation process will end and that there will be progress at the Geneva talks.