GALI, DFWatch–Sokhumi ponders prohibiting Abkhazians from travelling to Georgia proper for medical treatment and in search of other opportunities, because these developments undermine the breakaway region’s ‘statehood’.
“Those Abkhazians who go to Georgia and receive Georgian citizenship in exchange for loans or other social benefits are actually betraying their nation. I hope the legislators will return to this issue and those Abkhazians who obtained Georgian citizenship will be deprived of the right to participate in elections. In the near future, Abkhazian citizens will be forbidden from crossing the Georgian-Abkhazian border,” Temur Nadaraia, the de facto head of Gali district, said in an interview with Sputnik Abkhazia.
This category includes not only those who need medical treatment but also people looking to get cheap loans and other social benefits, he added.
Since 2009, Georgia has been offering medical treatment free of charge for ethnic Abkhazians and Ossetians. Thousands of people have participated in the program, including hundreds of children. The free medical service is extremely appealing to people living in the breakaway republics where it is barely possible getting quality care, while traveling to Russian for treatment is costly and not affordable for the vast majority of locals.
In April, 2018 Georgia offered a new package of opportunities for the populations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which includes social, educational and economic components in order to develop people-to-people ties and ease tensions between populations.
All those opportunities have been met with reluctance and even open hostility by Tskhinvali and Sokhumi as well as Russia.