President Saakashvili said on November 12 that last year his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had personally threatened to impose, what he called, “the Cyprus model” on Georgia and split the country in two.
President Saakashvili recalled his conversation with Putin on the sidelines of the CIS summit in Minsk last November during a meeting with teachers, which was broadcast by the Georgian Public Broadcaster late on November 12. The president had initially been talking about the alleged deployment of additional Russian forces in Abkhazia, but then moved on to “the Cyprus model.”
Below is a transcript of this part of Saakashvili’s speech:
“Yesterday and again today, the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, who normally reflects the positions of the Russian authorities, said that Russia should recognize Abkhazia. Yesterday, a trainload of dozens of T-72 battle tanks and artillery arrived in Ochamchire [in breakaway Abkhazia]. Russia has not done such a thing in the last few years. This morning several dozen bus loads of ethnic Chechen fighters arrived in Abkhazia from Russia, and were deployed to Ochamchire.
Now I want to tell you something that I have not spoken of previously.
Last year, President Putin directly told me at the [CIS] summit in Minsk that Russia would create a new Cyprus in Abkhazia.
And I want to explain what the Cyprus case means, as Russians understand it. There was a huge riot in Athens, Greece in 1973. There were demonstrations against the then Greek government. In parallel to these events, turmoil was sparked in Cyprus. The Greek government was totally occupied by the internal affairs of Greece and they failed to react [to developments in Cyprus], and, as a result, Cyprus was split in two. This conflict remains unresolved. This is the Cyprus case and the Cyprus model for Georgia.
I want to tell the Russians and others. You have failed to split Georgia in two and you won’t be able to do so. Yes, they have managed to portray Georgia as being split and weak and by doing so we have suffered damage internationally and we should recognise this. But the real split has failed to materialise and it will fail.
Moreover, the Georgian state, the Georgian security and law enforcement agencies, are totally mobilized to ensure that no one seizes Abkhazia or Tskhinvali [South Ossetia].
Do not even put your nose here and pull out those Chechens from there [Abkhazia]. No matter how much military hardware is deployed [in Abkhazia], we have even more resources [with which to respond].
I call on everyone not to use the pre-election period in Georgia to stage provocations. Everyone should know that, regardless of the elections, the Georgian government will always remain effective in responding to provocations.”