TBILISI, DFWatch–“The war didn’t start between Georgians and Abkhazians – this war was imposed on our people, that’s why we will win together – Georgians and Abkhazians,” President Mikheil Saakashvili said 21 years after the Abkhazian War started.
The war began August 14, 21 years ago, by a decision of Georgia’s state council chaired by Eduard Shevardnadze. Armed forces were brought to Abkhazia in order to establish order over the railway, which was followed by breakout of war.
25 000 people died in the conflict, and 300 000 people were forced to flee from Abkhazian territory because they were not ethnically Abkhazians. Those people remain refugees today, and despite demands and recommendations from the international community, they have not been allowed to go back to their homes.
Even though Russia took on a peacekeeping role, it took side in Abkhazia, and after the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Russia recognized the region’s independence. But before that, Russia distributed Russian passports to people living in Abkhazia.
President Saakashvili on Wednesday asked Abkhazian people to pay tribute to ‘those who sacrificed [their] lives to the unity of the country and bright ideals’ and also to honor people ‘who for 21 years bear the results of this war.’
“I pay tribute to those who still believe that our homeland will be unified,” the president writes in his appeal. “This war wasn’t started between Georgians and Abkhazians; this war was imposed on our people.”
The president writes that believes the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway region, ‘is written in Russia nowadays’.
“Russia is plying by borders and attempts to increase occupied territories by wire-installation, but I am sure this is temporary and everything will change. They forget a simple thing – as night follows a day – occupation is followed by de-occupation. This is inevitable.”