Decision of the United States to accept Georgia’s neutral travel documents is a mistake, deputy foreign minister of breakaway Abkhazia, Irakli Khintba, said and warned Abkhazians not to take those documents as it was “a trap” placed by Tbilisi.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Batumi on June 5, that the U.S. would accept the status neutral travel documents issued by Georgia for residents of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “This would be a strong step towards reconciliation and supports a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict,” Clinton said.
Speaking at a news conference in Sokhumi on June 7, the breakaway region’s deputy foreign minister Irakli Khintba said that he would not like to hype up this issue over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as “only small portion” of Clinton’s speech was dedicated to it.
“But I deem this decision by the U.S. to recognize so called neutral passports is very erroneous,” Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported quoting Khintba.
“This is yet another strategic miscalculation by Obama administration after they agreed to use term ‘occupied territories’ in reference to Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he said.
He said that Georgia’s neutral travel documents had nothing to do with reconciliation and conflict resolution, as Secretary Clinton put it while announcing about the U.S. decision.
“It will only incite Georgia’s new adventures,” Khintba said, adding that these travel documents were far from being neutral.
“These are Georgian documents, issued by the Georgian authorities and these documents are part of Georgia’s state strategy on occupied territories. Country code GEO [Georgia] is clearly indicated on these documents,” Khintba said, adding that if a holder of this document would require a consular service while traveling abroad a Georgian diplomatic mission in that particular country would have to provide such services.
He said that these documents were in fact an attempt to impose on residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia Georgian passports.
“We have a confidence in a choice of our citizens and we hope, that they understand how dangerous this proposal by Georgia about neutral documents is. We are sure, that our citizens, who have undergone through bloody war and brutal blockade and who have managed to establish an independent state, will never accept these documents,” he said.
“They want to lure you into a trap, which the authorities in Tbilisi have been placing methodically for a long time already. Tbilisi’s goal is obvious – to return us back into Georgia,” Khintba said. “The Georgian authorities say, that the goal of these neutral passports is to de-isolate residents of Abkhazia and to allow Abkhazians to travel around the world. This is cynical lie. If the authorities in Tbilisi care so much about our rights, why they have been stifling us with international blockade?”
“I am surprised that Americans don’t understand that the Georgian adventure involving neutral passports is doomed to failure and there is no need to allocate money for continuation of this adventure. We also see that the goal of Obama administration is not to protect rights of Abkhaz citizens, but to make various geopolitical calculations and to indulge whims of its puppets in Tbilisi,” Khintba said.
President Saakashvili said on June 6, that the U.S. decision to accept neutral travel documents “will allow residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to travel to the U.S. with documents issued by Georgia.”
“This is a very important step forward towards legitimizing our rights over occupied territories,” he said.
While welcoming introduction of these documents, the European Union has also called on Tbilisi that neutral travel documents “should not be the only means of travel for these populations until they are more widely accepted by them.”