Russian arms supplies to Abkhazia, Tskhinvali pose regional hazards - Georgian ambassador

17:01 • 19.09.17



Russia's continuing arms supplies to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali pose hazards to the entire South Caucasus, the Georgian ambassador to Armenia said today, warning of further Russian attempts to expand pressure upon the occupied regions.


At a news conference in Yerevan, Giorgi Saganelidze also called attention to the increased militarization in the region since the 2008 Russian-Abkhazian war. In his words, every town and village is now under the control of 5,000 Russian troops armed with different military equipment (armoured vehicles, anti-air defense systems etc).


“This August marked the ninth anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war, and the two Georgian regions, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, are under Russian occupation today. The de-facto functioning institutions there are integrated into the political, economic, military and social infrastructures of Russia.  A joint military contingent has been created in Abkhazia, with the illegally functioning military units in Tskhinvali being part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” he added.


The ambassador also addressed the recent referendum in Tskhinvali, which he said was held in an attempt to rename the region Alania. “Alania is the historical name of North Ossetia, so the renaming in question aims to unite the region with Russia. The fact is also openly stated by the de-facto authorities of Tskhinvali.”


“We find this kind of militarization very dangerous for not only Georgia but also the entire region. Many people do not even know that the distance between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali is just as far as 40km. Twenty-five Georgian villages are now under occupation, with 800 families having lost their land lots and pastures. There are also divided villages. Several villages which are on the territory of Georgia, have, for example, cemeteries in the occupied zone.  Russian occupants have installed 25km barb wires to arrest approaching civilians or to demand ransom for them. Since 2008, an estimated 1,000 people have been detained over what they describe as illegal border crossing in the Tskhinvali region,” he said, adding that local residents often have to give up their Georgian citizenship under the local authorities’ pressure.


The ambassador noted that many Georgians in Tskhinvali and Abkhazia are even forced to change their passport names and are banned from access to Georgian language education.

 

“We have an estimated 500,000 refugees from Abkhazia,” the ambassador said.

He added they expect only a peaceful solution to the conflict.

 

“Our desire now is to develop close relations with the population in the occupied regions without regard to their ethnic origins. Every citizen of an occupied region is a Georgian citizen, and hence Georgia is responsible to take care of each,” he added.

 

But the ambassador refrained from any comments on the Russian-Armenian or Azerbaijani-Georgian relations. Neither did he respond to journalists’ questions regarding the situation in his country.

 

Betghehem Arabyan





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