Irakli Kobakhize: Russia Operates Military Bases in Occupied Regions

The Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhize, visited France with a delegation of lawmakers from 14 – 16 January. During his visit, he met with his French counterparts, President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher and President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand, among other officials.

The main issues discussed during his visit were the enhancement of the political, economic and cultural relations between Georgia and France, Georgia’s integration into NATO and the EU and the current situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), the occupied regions of Georgia.

On 16 January, Kobakhidze delivered a speech to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly heavily condemning the occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia.

He told French lawmakers that “both occupied regions of Georgia Abkhazia and Tskhinvali have in fact become the closed military bases of Russia, or service stations. The continuation of Russian aggression concerns the Georgian government.”

Kobakhidze noted in his speech that Russia occupies 20% of Georgian territory and continues to push the occupation line forwards.

There is international concern of human rights abuses in the occupied zones in Georgia. “Ethnic Georgians are deprived of the possibility to receive an education in their native language; the population’s right to movement is also restricted; Georgian villages were intentionally destroyed; people are being kidnaped, tortured and killed,” Kobakhidze said.

Despite this aggression, he said he believes the Georgian government is working towards a pragmatic and peaceful policy towards Russia based on democratic principles, in line with the government’s desire to make Georgia a fully democratic state. Indeed, many Russian tourists still visit Georgia and the trade-economic and transport ties between the two countries have improved. Nonetheless, the political situation remains in a deadlock.

The complex and delicate situation makes international support and relations even more vital in Georgia. During his visit, Kobakhidze participated in talks to discuss the improvement of the trade-economic, cultural and political ties between France and Georgia. He highlighted French-born Salome Zurabishvili’s election as the new president of Georgia, hoping that the former diplomat will help to enhance ties between Georgia and France. Georgia and France have a long-standing history of collaboration. In discussion with Gerard Larcher, Kobakhidze mentioned Dimitri Amilakhvari, a French military officer of Georgian origin who played at important part in the French resistance during the second world war. Moreover, former officials of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia lived in exile in France. Kobakhidze said he hopes that this collaborative legacy will continue to grow.

By Amy Jones

17 January 2019 18:27