Official Tbilisi Condemns Putin's Meeting with De Facto Abkhazia Leader

Official Tbilisi has condemned the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Raul Khajimba, de facto President of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, held in Sochi three days ago.

Georgia’s State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said this is not the first meeting between Putin and Khajimba and emphasized that Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty has the absolute support of the international community.

“This was not a big surprise, as since 2008, Russian influence has been steadily increasing in both occupied territories of Georgia. In Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, in fact, all areas are under the exclusive control of Russia, and such meetings only help to increase this influence,” she said.

The Minister noted this is not a positive development for the local population and society in Abkhazia.

“From year to year, we more often hear of the very critical attitude of locals towards the Russian policy, which is actually against the identity of the local population,” she said.

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also condemned Putin and Khajimba’s recent meeting. Spokesperson for the MFA of Georgia Vladimir Constantinidi said Russia's move is directed against Georgia's statehood, sovereignty and territorial integrity and grossly ignores the fundamental norms of international law.

Constantinidi stressed the meeting represents another attempt to legitimize the occupation regime and also emphasized that the international community fully supports Georgia's sovereignty.

The MFA spokesperson said that the meeting was held on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war that took place in 2008 and brought serious consequences for Georgia.

“Despite similar efforts from Russia, the international community will never tolerate the illegal occupation of Georgia's inseparable regions. The international community strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and the non-recognition policy of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which we can clearly see in public statements and documents of individual countries and international organizations, as well as in their active steps to promote peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said.

Abkhazian media reports that at the meeting with Khajimba, the President of Russia discussed the implementation of previously outlined plans, as well as social development projects and mutual cooperation issues.

The sides also discussed the issue of so called “presidential elections” in occupied Abkhazia, which are scheduled for August 26.

“I do hope that the elections will be organized strictly in line with democratic principles and will contribute to further stabilization in the republic, both in the economic and political sense," Putin told the de facto leader of Abkhazia.

On his side, Khajimba thanked Putin for the assistance received from Russia which, he said, gives Abkhazia the opportunity to develop economically.

The previous meeting of Putin and Khajimba took place in late August 2018 together with the leader of another occupied region of Georgia, South Ossetia - Anatoly Bibilov, to celebrate the “recognition of independence” of the two regions, which were occupied by Russia during the August 2008 war.

That day, the leaders of Russia and breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia held trilateral “talks” in Moscow.

In the aftermath of the August 2008 War, the Russian Federation occupies 20% of Georgian territory and is slowly moving the administrative boundary line, pushing further into Georgia.

Russia recognizes the "independence” of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia along with only four other countries - Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru.

The remaining international community affirms that the two regions are integral parts of Georgia and call on Russia to revoke its recognition of the breakaway regions and withdraw its forces from the Georgian territory.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Apsnypress

08 August 2019 18:45