The Abkhaz leadership has strongly criticized the Georgian government’s new document laying out strategy towards its two breakaway regions and described it as “a guideline of what Abkhazia should not do.”
The document – “the State Strategy on Occupied Territories: Engagement Through Cooperation” – was endorsed by the Georgian government on January 27.Among other things, it offers to facilitate people-to-people contacts “across the dividing lines” through humanitarian, economic and “grassroots-level trade” measures, as well as through restoration of transport links. It also proposes to create dedicated funds with the participation of the state, donor community and private investors, to support joint business activities.
Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said on February 2, that the strategy was “a soft bribery” of Gali residents by the Georgian authorities.
“We are ready to talk with international structures, if they provide support to the Gali residents via Abkhazia. But if it is done via Georgia, we will prevent it by all means,” Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported quoting Bagapsh.
He was speaking at a meeting with senior Abkhaz officials to discuss situation in the predominantly ethnic Georgian-populated Gali district of the breakaway region, where one local policeman and two civilians were killed in a mine blast on January 29.
“We will not even talk about this issue. In response to this document we will tighten border control along the Enguri river and we will not let creation of ‘fifth column’ in the Gali district. I can imagine how many people are already recruited [by the Georgian authorities] and running around the [Gali] district,” Bagapsh said.
He warned the law enforcement agencies to keep a close eye on people suspected in cooperation with the Georgian authorities.
Sergey Shamba, the breakaway region’s foreign minister said at the same meeting, that the Georgian negotiators “tried to give” the strategy to the Abkhaz side during the ninth round of Geneva talks on January 28.
“But the Abkhaz representatives stated that they would not even read it and warned that they would walk out from the meeting, if this so called ‘strategy on occupied territories’ was again offered,” Apsinpress reported quoting Shamba said.
“We are not an occupied territory and we are not going to even talk about this issue. We regard this document as a plan of return of Abkhazia back to Georgia. For us this document is a guideline of what we should not do,” Shamba added.