At the 25th anniversary of the start of the armed conflict in Abkhazia on August 14, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and President Giorgi Margvelashvili released statements, where they spoke of the “tragic” events 25 years ago and reached out to the Abkhaz community.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said in his statement that August 14 is “a tragic day” in the modern history of Georgia. “25 years ago we failed to avoid a fratricidal war: the bloodshed between us and our Abkhaz brothers led us to gravest consequences and the severity of these consequences is more noticeable today for both Georgians and the Abkhaz.”
“The history of our coexistence is exemplary and we have no right to live in such reality: an external force should not stand between us, it is harmful for us – Georgians and Abkhaz, and the future of our children,” the Prime Minister also noted, referring to the presence of Russian troops in Abkhazia.
“I have a great hope that we will manage to rectify this huge mistake and time will come soon, when we will return the hearts of our Abkhaz brothers and continue our coexistence with centuries-old love and mutual respect behind us, in a united, strong Georgia,” Kvirikashvili added.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili released a statement as well, saying that the armed conflict in Abkhazia was “one of the most tragic events” in Georgia’s modern history. “The bloody confrontation claimed the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians - of our citizens from both sides.”
Margvelashvili also stressed that the “the Russian state policy nurtured by the Soviet imperialism played an important role in the fratricidal war,” which displaced hundreds of thousands in their homeland.
He then stated that the responsibility towards the displaced, relations with the Abkhaz and [South] Ossetians and the consequences of territorial conflicts “remain to be the top priority for the state and the society,” and the only way to respond to “this challenge” is through “steadfast observance of peace, as well as the principled international and neighborhood policy, restoration of trust and cooperation with [Abkhaz and South Ossetian] compatriots, and the overall development of the country.”
The President also said, echoing Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s statement, that “time will come, when we, together with the Abkhaz and [South] Ossetians, will start building a strong, developed, democratic and peaceful state, where security and economic welfare of all citizens, protection of political rights, maintenance and deepening of ethnic, religious and cultural identity will become a common task for every one of us and a precondition for our advancement.”
Members of the Supreme Council and the Government of Abkhazia - Tbilisi-based administrative bodies of the region - marked the day with a wreath-laying ceremony at a memorial of fallen Georgian soldiers in Tbilisi.
In its statement, the Supreme Council stressed that the armed conflict in Abkhazia was “instigated by the Russian empire” and that it caused a huge human tragedy – “over 300 thousand native residents of Abkhazia were displaced in their homeland; thousands of soldiers sacrificed their lives for their homeland; about five thousand civilians went missing; thousands of people became disabled.”
“We believe that the blood and the souls sacrificed for our homeland is what will lead us to final victory – return us to our native homes,” the Council also said.
The Georgian government dispatched troops to the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in 1992 to protect the Abkhazia section of the Russian-Georgian railway. The government troops were forced to withdraw from the region in September 1993. Reportedly, more than 12,000 people died during the 13-month long armed conflict. Around 300 000 remain displaced.