Georgian PM’s Irakli Garibashvili said on Saturday that intention of the de facto authorities in breakaway Abkhazia to close down four out of five crossing points at the administrative boundary line is “not a reasonable decision” and it will worsen condition of ethnic Georgians living in the Gali district of breakaway region and will not be helpful for Tbilisi’s reconciliation efforts.
According to the Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, Abkhaz leader, Raul Khajimba, said while meeting leadership of his party, Forum of People’s Unity of Abkhazia, on October 2 that Sokhumi should tighten its policy towards Tbilisi, which, he said, has “revanchist” plans towards Abkhazia. He also said that only one border crossing point should operate on the river Enguri and others should be closed down as part of planned tightening of border security. Khajimba was speaking about need to tighten movement across the administrative border with Georgia during the election campaign and also spoke about it shortly after winning snap presidential election in August.
The Georgian PM responded to these remarks by Khajimba on October 4 while speaking with journalists in Tbilisi. He made comments on his own initiative without being asked on the matter by journalists.
“From the very first day of taking office, our government has been showing our goodwill and readiness to launch a genuine reconciliation process with our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers. What has happened over the past two decades is a tragedy for our nation and for our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers,” Garibashvili told journalists after visiting a mosque in Tbilisi, where he congratulated Muslim community on Kurban Bayram.
“I think that this is not a reasonable decision,” Garibashvili said referring to plans to keep only one crossing point at the administrative border.
“Of course it deteriorates our citizens’ condition on the ground. I want to reiterate once again that we are maximally open for speeding up of reconciliation process and to restore confidence between Abkhazians and Georgians, Ossetians and Georgians. We are ready for providing any kind of humanitarian assistance to our brothers. It is not a coincidence that we are building a multi-functional, ultra-modern hospital at the dividing line and of course our Abkhazian brothers will be able to get [health] treatment free of charge there,” PM Garibashvili said.
In late August, the PM participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a medical complex in the village of Rukhi in Zugdidi municipality on the administrative border with breakaway Abkhazia. The complex, which is expected to be constructed in two and a half years, will include a 220-bed hospital, facilities for medical training, as well as accommodation for visiting relatives of patients.
“We are also building there a multi-functional trade center [at the Abkhaz administrative border] in order to ease trade ties and people-to-people contacts. That is how we respond to their initiative. We respond with more love and warmth, but this [closing down crossing points] will not help reconciliation process. Such decisions only complicate this process,” Garibashvili added.