Nino Burjanadze, the former Parliamentary Chairperson, said she was “shocked” when she heard President Saakashvili acknowledging offering Russia partitioning Abkhazia months before the August war.
On June 27 the Russian daily Kommersant reported that during a visit of Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze in Moscow on June 23, Tbilisi had offered Moscow, a plan involving dividing Abkhazia, with Gali and Ochamchire districts under Tbilisi control –allowing Georgian displaced persons to return there – and areas to the north of Ochamchire, including the capital Sokhumi, under de facto Russian control. The Georgian authorities have strongly denied the report back in June; on August 24, President Saakashvili, however, confirmed that he had sent a letter to his Russian counterpart offering that type of arrangement. He also said that the proposal was rejected by Moscow.d
“I was shocked when I listened to the President saying he had offered Russia, what in fact was, splitting Abkhazia,” she said in an interview with the RFE/RL Georgian service. “I was a Parliamentary Chairperson and if there was such talk on the matter, I had the right to know about that. I’ve learnt about it from the Kommersant and when I asked our authorities whether this information had any ground, they categorically denied it.”
“It is totally unacceptable that talks were underway about an actual split of Abkhazia behind the back of the Parliamentary Chairperson, who is a second highest ranking official [after the President] in the country. I will naturally demand an answer on this question and I will ask how it happened that the second person in the country did not know about talks on vitally important issue for the country and has anyone the right – even if it is a President – to hold talks or to send letters about some kind of model of splitting the part of the country’s territory.”
The Kommersant ran the article about the Abkhaz partition proposal on June 27, when Nino Burjanadze was no longer a parliamentary chairperson. The new Parliament was convened on June 7 and Davit Bakradze was elected as the new parliamentary chairman, on the same day.