Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, instructed the breakaway region’s government to develop a comprehensive plan on how the authorities could help foster repatriation of ethnic Abkhazians.
“We do not need Abkhazia without Abkhazians,” he said at a meeting with senior Abkhaz officials from the executive and legislative authorities on May 6, Apsnipress reported.
He said that “numerous trips” by Abkhaz officials and representatives of the Abkhaz intelligentsia to Turkey failed to result into “mass repatriation” of ethnic Abkhazians to the breakaway region.
Tens of thousands of Muslim Abkhazians moved to the then Ottoman empire, as part of a larger Muslim migration process from the Caucasus in the nineteenth century. The repatriation of their descendants, the Abkhaz leadership claims, is a policy priority for the authorities in the breakaway region. Speaking about the demographic situation in Abkhazia in 2005, Bagapsh said that less than 70,000 ethnic Abkhazians lived in the region.
According to the Apsnipress, Abkhaz Prime Minister, Alexander Ankvab said at a meeting on May 6 that 2,063 ethnic Abkhazians moved to Abkhazia in recent three years, including, he said, 379 from Turkey and 176 from Georgia’s Autonomous Republic of Adjara.
Sergey Bagapsh noted that unstable situation surrounding Abkhazia, including “permanent threats of war coming from Georgia” serve as a deterrent to repatriation process.