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Saakashvili Promises Return of Abkhaz IDPs in Months
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Nov.'07 / 19:48

Mikheil Saakashvili, who is seeking reelection as President on January 5, said Georgia, along with the international community, would create the conditions in the next few months that would secure the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Abkhazia.

Saakashvili was speaking at a meeting with a group Abkhaz IDPs as part of his election campaign. The meeting was held in the Tbilisi Municipality building.

“I promise you – and this is not a promise made as part of a pre-election campaign - if the January 5 elections are held normally, we will spend next winter in a warmer climate; we will be back in our homes. I promise this to you and I guarantee this. I have never before said anything more concrete,” Saakashvili said.

“I want to promise you that in the nearest future – I was thinking of doing that in my first presidential term, but because of well known reasons, I have cut that term – so in the nearest future, I mean in the next few months, I am not saying years, we, along with the international community, will create conditions for your return to Abkhazia in safety and dignity.”

He then criticized “some international organizations” for advocating IDP integration into local communities where they currently reside.

“Some international organizations call on us to convince internally displaced persons that there is no longer a need to return. I have a very blunt response to this: I do not know whom you are going to convince, but I know that I have a house in Sokhumi and you won’t be able to convince me of the contrary,” Saakashvili said.

He also said that some non-governmental organizations were advocating that Georgians acknowledge alleged mistakes that led to the armed conflict in Abkhazia in the early 90s.

“Why should we apologise? Say sorry for what? Because our heads were cut and because we were forced out of our homes; or maybe because our churches [in Abkhazia] were raided and our children frozen on mountain passes [when displaced persons tried to flee Abkhazia]? Should we say sorry? For what? I can not understand why they got a grant from international organizations [to advocate this stance]… I know there are some international groups, not state ones, which pay money for this type of foolishness. This is more than just saying sorry; it means creating a legal groundwork for depriving you of the right to return [to Abkhazia].”

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