Abkhazia doesn’t agree with return of Georgian refugees – Bagapsh

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- Abkhazia will not agree with the return of Georgian refugees because that will lead to a war, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh told MGIMO university professors and students in Moscow on Tuesday.

“A total of 72 nationalities – Abkhazians, Armenians, Georgians, Russians, Estonians and others – live in Abkhazia now. We received about 55,000 refugees after the war with Georgia, while Georgia received only 5,000. These people are our citizens of full value. They take part in the republic’s life, including elections. The return of other refugees is problematic, and we cannot do it right now for fear of a possible war,” he said.

Bagapsh recalled the Moscow agreement and said that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had seceded from that document.

Abkhazia will not hold a dialog or cooperate with the incumbent Georgian administration, the president said.

“We are open for a dialog with any state, but any dialog or contacts with the incumbent Georgian administration are out of the question,” he said.

“One must tell the difference between the Georgian authorities and the people of Georgia. There are no bad peoples, but there are some bad authorities. We have negative feelings for these politicians because their hands are bloodstained and they must be tried by an international tribunal,” he said.

“Abkhazia will negotiate if Georgia understands that the world has changed and new realities have taken shape,” Bagapsh said.

“It is necessary to recognize Abkhazia and to develop normal relations. It is impossible to build a wall between peoples of Abkhazia and Georgia,” he said.

Saakashvili “is not a serious politician,” Bagapsh said, expressing his sincere sympathy with the people of Georgia.

Abkhazia is working on its recognition by a larger number of states, Bagapsh said.

“Abkhazia is endlessly thankful to Russia for its courageous position in August 2008,” he said.

“Abkhazia keeps working on its recognition by a larger number of states, and the Russian Foreign Ministry is helping us a lot,” Bagapsh noted. “At the same time, Abkhazia will beg no one for recognition. We will develop the domestic policy and economy in such a way that no one will have any recognition doubts. Obviously, this is not easy, but we are trying,” he said.

“It is important for us that we are recognized by the world’s largest country [Russia] and the world’s smallest country [Nauru]. This is a good range for recognition prospects,” Bagapsh said.

Russia is the only strategic ally of Abkhazia, he noted.

“Abkhazia wishes to develop a dialog with all regional countries, but our main and only strategic ally is Russia. This is the choice of our grandfathers, not to mention the Abkhaz president,” he said.

Bagapsh added that he wanted Abkhazia to be a member of many international organizations, primarily the Russia-Belarus Union State and the Customs Union.

“The Union State is just the first step. We are watching the Ukrainian situation and negotiating with Belarus. We hope that it [Belarus] will recognize us at some point, and it will be easier for us to join the Union State,” Bagapsh said.

“The Customs Union will be the next step. We are coordinating a duty-free trade agreement with Russia and developing economic contacts. We want to broaden relations with the help of the existent infrastructure, communications and transport, but it is difficult to do without participation in international organizations, such as the Customs Union,” Bagapsh said.




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