Georgian State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili, said that when Georgia raised the issue of unauthorized entry of Turkish ships to breakaway Abkhazia with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Georgian side put forth some “tough questions” on which Tbilisi wanted answers.
The issue was discussed when Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, visited Georgia on September 7-8, which was followed by a release of a Turkish captain of a cargo vessel, detained by Georgia in mid-August for unauthorized entry into Abkhazia.
“We are waiting from Turkey to answer to very tough questions, because those ships [reference to other Turkish-operated ships, which were detained by the Georgian coast guard in recent months] had very strange records in their papers, such as: destination – Sokhumi, Abkhazia; and we expect that relevant Turkish officials, who issued those papers, will be punished for that, let’s say for that inaccuracy. We were pledged that those people would be detained and held responsible – it’s up to them [the Turkish side] to decide how,” Iakobashvili said in an interview with RFE/RL Georgian service on September 15.
He also said that Georgia was not imposing any blockade on Abkhazia. “It is a lie,” Iakobashvili said.
“The ships, which we have arrested, were not arrested because we are against of trade with Abkhazia. Simply, we argue that there are procedures, which should be undergone by everybody and only afterwards they can enter [into Abkhazia], no problem,” he added.
Iakobashvili specified that vessels en-route to Abkhazia should at first undergo the Georgian customs clearance before entering the Abkhaz port.
“We cannot turn Abkhazia into a black hole for FSB [Russia’s Federal Security Service] or GRU [Russia’s military intelligence],” and allow illicit cargo to flow in to, and out from that territory, he said.
He suggested that Russia was currently testing out possibility for using port in Sokhumi for delivery of construction materials for building Sochi Winter Olympic infrastructure. “It is exploring the ground both with us and with the west, because Russia catastrophically lacks the infrastructure for holding Olympic Games in 2014,” he added.
Iakobashvili also said that one of the goals of a strategy paper, which the Georgian government plans to develop in respect of occupied territories, would be laying out proposals on creation of set of “mechanisms and instruments” which would prevent or at least minimize reoccurrence of this type of incidents.
He said that this strategy paper would be based on “open door policy.”
“We are not going to push the occupied territories in isolation and to push them further towards Russia and further into Russia’s slavery,” Iakobashvili said.