Gov’t continues development to build “strong, united country” with Abkhaz, Ossetian compatriots - Parliament Speaker

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili has responded to the 31st anniversary of the start of the 1990s armed conflict in the Abkhazia region. Photo: Shalva Papuashvili’s Facebook, 14 Aug 2023 - 12:59, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Monday said the Government was pursuing development to “achieve the cherished goal of building a united and strong Georgia” together with compatriots in the Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions, in comments marking the 31st anniversary of the start of the 1990s armed conflict in the former. 

In his social media post, the official stressed the country continued the pursuit to “preserve its identity, advancement and freedom” and “achieve the goal of reunification soon”, adding it would not “accept the reality” of the occupation. 

Our goal is clear - to walk the path that leads to the hearts of our brothers. Let us heal wounds with love and forgiveness, walk together and build together, and again enjoy a pleasant and dignified coexistence. This is our main national task today”, Papuashvili said, adding he believed the “tragic date” of August 14, which marks the beginning of the 1992-1993 war, would one day “only remain on paper”.

The conflict in the north-western region broke out following the restoration of Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union, and after the armed forces of the nascent republic were sent into Abkhazia with the goal of defending a section of a strategically important railway amid tensions between ethnic Abkhazians and Georgians.

The Government units were confronted by Abkhaz paramilitary forces on contact, sparking the year-long-conflict that saw material, tactical and operational support from Russian forces stationed in and beyond the region provided to Abkhaz forces, in addition to mercenary groups from the Caucasus republics of Russia also fighting against troops of the fledgling Georgian state.

The regional capital Sokhumi fell on September 27, 1993 after the Abkhaz side violated a ceasefire agreement between the sides on July 27, 1993 and launched an assault on the city on September 16, after the Georgian side had withdrawn most of its defences as per the agreement.

Between 13,000 and 20,000 ethnic Georgians and approximately 3,000 Abkhaz have been reported killed during the conflict, which lasted for 13 months and 13 days. Over 250,000 Georgians fled the region and became internally displaced in the country, while more than 2,000 - including about 1,500 ethnic Georgians, up to 200 ethnic Abkhaz and about 100 ethnic Ossetians -  declared missing.

In the wake of the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Russia recognised the two occupied regions of Georgia as independent states, with only Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria joining the move. The rest of the international community recognises the regions as part of Georgia and has called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories as stipulated in the ceasefire agreement that ended the conflict.