Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the opposition coalition Georgian Dream, said in case of coming into power he would consider restoring railway link between Georgia and Russia via breakaway Abkhazia.
He made the remarks at a huge election campaign rally in Zugdidi, town in Samegrelo region, close to the administrative border with breakaway Abkhazia.
“Our team promises Abkhazia that we will consider restoration of railway and highway. It will open the way for Georgians and Abkhazians towards the Russian markets, which will be essential for the revival of our economy,” he said.
“The railway will foster development of our economy and it will also give Abkhaz businessmen possibility to develop their businesses and to encourage their participation in Georgia’s economy,” Ivanishvili said.
At the campaign rally Ivanishvili also spoke of the importance of confidence building process between Abkhazians and Georgians and offered to make predominantly Georgian-populated Gali district of the breakaway region “a reconciliation bridge between Abkhazians and Georgians.”
“We will offer Abkhazians to make Gali district region of peace,” he said. “We will start confidence building from Gali. We will start with public diplomacy and we will definitely return Abkhaz people’s trust towards us.”
“I want to address Abkhazians from Zugdidi. We, Georgians and Abkhazians, have shed each other’s blood – that cannot be justified. We have made a huge sacrifice, but now time has come when we should take care of restoration of our relations, we should take care of our common future… We have much in common and until it is not late we should make use of it,” he said.
“Unlike Saakashvili, our team will never allow provocations and will never use the residents of Gali against Abkhazia. Such disgraceful policy will end together with Saakashvili’s rule,” Ivanishvili said.
“The foundation for returning of Abkhazia should be laid in Samegrelo. We will find a dignified way out of this situation together with our Abkhazian brothers. Abkhazia should return to Georgia at its own will and what is most important, aspiration for reliable and desirable future should bring Abkhazians to us, instead of those violent statements, which this man [Mikheil Saakashvili] is constantly making,” he added.
Ivanishvili also focused on the necessity of return of international displaced persons to their “homeland.”
“We have also prepared a plan for the return of IDPs to Abkhazia,” he said. “How many houses should be built, how much money it will need, how we should return – be sure that we have already prepared a project and we will do everything peacefully.”
He also said that his plan was to build a new healthcare and medical educational center in Zugdidi, which would provide services free of charge for the local population, as well as for the residents of Abkhazia. Ivanishvili also pledged to invest GEL 100 million in development of local economy in the Samegrelo region.