The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned Turkish ambassador in Tbilisi, Levent Gümrükçü, to convey its, as MFA put it, “negative” stance and “protest” over the visit of a large group of Turkish journalists to breakaway Abkhazia.
About eighty members of the Federation of Turkish Journalists (TGF) visited Abkhazia on May 9-12 and held TGF’s 44th assembly, as well as the first congress of Turkish and Abkhaz journalists in Sokhumi; the delegation was also received by senior Abkhaz officials.
TGF members arrived in the breakaway region from Turkey via Russia. Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, said earlier on May 13 that it was a violation of Georgia’s law on occupied territories.
According to this law, entry into breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia for foreign citizens from the areas other than Georgian-controlled territories is a subject to criminal punishment. Violation of this rule carries either financial penalty or a jail term from two to four years, according to the law.
The Georgian MFA said that at a meeting with the Turkish ambassador, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Jalagania noted that “such cases do not correspond to close partnership relations” which the two countries have; he expressed hope that such cases will not reoccur in the future.
“The ambassador of Turkey reiterated Turkey’s support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and noted that this support was unambiguously demonstrated once again during official visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gül to Georgia on May 7,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said. “In respect of illegal movement to Georgia’s occupied regions, the Turkish ambassador stated that the Republic of Turkey will not allow any kind of official contacts from Turkey with these regions.”