Belarussian Leader Visits Abkhazia
Kremlin-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania met with Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenka on 28 September to discuss bilateral cooperation, as well as international security, and current challenges, in the resort town of Bichvinta in occupied Abkhazia. This is Lukashenka’s first visit to occupied Abkhazia while in office. His last official visit to Tbilisi took place in March, 2018.
Bzhania also expressed confidence that Lukashenka’s visit would “give a new impetus to relations between the two peoples.”
For his part, Lukashenka recalled his visit to Abkhazia in the past and highlighted that he recently discussed issues related to Abkhazia with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which they “came to the same conclusion that Abkhazia should not be abandoned.”
“Today, more than ever, we have seen what the world has become,” Lukashenka stressed. “We will not be allowed to live in peace. Therefore, we must strengthen relations with friends.”
Bzhania stressed that the occupied region is “closely monitoring the events that are taking place in the world.” “Every citizen of Abkhazia is concerned about this,” he said.
It is important to note that Belarus does not recognize the “independence” of occupied Abkhazia or of the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Traditionally, it votes against the UN General Assembly resolution which reiterates the right of all IDPs and refugees to return to occupied regions.
At an event dedicated to the 29th anniversary of the Fall of Sokhumi at the President’s Atoneli Residence, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili condemned Aleksandr Lukashenka’s recent visit to Abkhazia and discussed the future of relations with the occupied region.
“I cannot fail to mention how unacceptable and concerning what happened today is,” the President noted. “It’s a very cynical thing when the President of Belarus goes to Abkhazia, in violation of the Law on Occupied Territories, in violation of all the rules and principles of international law, in violation of our supposedly friendly ties.”
EU’s Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano condemned Aleksandr Lukashenka’s visit to occupied Abkhazia while emphasizing that the visit “violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and constitutes a blatant violation of international law.”
“Apart from the fact, that Lukashenko lacks any legitimacy to act as a head of State, this visit was undertaken without the consent of the government of Georgia, which is the only legitimate authority over the region of Abkhazia,” he underscored and concluded by reiterating the EU’s steadfast support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.
Georgia Condemns Forceful Annexation of Ukraine Regions
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili condemned the forceful annexation of four Ukrainian regions on a ceremony held by Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 30.
“Formalizing sham referendums to support a blatant violation of international law and forceful annexation has no legitimacy, [and] no future,” she emphasized. “We reject such gross violations of international law and reiterate our full support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
The President also addressed Russian plans to mobilize recruits from Ukraine’s occupied regions, as well as Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, and deplored it as “another blunt violation of both our countries’ sovereignty.”
The Georgian Foreign Ministry declared on 1 October that it “strongly condemns so-called referendums held by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine and illegal annexation of these territories which is a clear act to forcefully change the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.”
The Ministry noted that “through this yet another illegal action of the Russian Federation, the fundamental principles of international law, protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states, have once again been grossly violated.”
“Georgia, which has experienced the attempts to change the internationally recognized borders by force, will never recognize the so-called illegal referendums held in Ukrainian regions,” the statement reads.
The Ministry “reaffirms its firm and unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
Five more MPs left Georgian Dream and joined newly formed party People’s Power
The Georgian Dream party formally lost its sole hold on the Parliamentary majority on 4 October, after five MPs left the party to join the anti-Western public movement People’s Power. The Georgian Dream faction is now left with 75 MPs in a 150-seat Parliament.
MP Sozar Subari, of the anti-Western public movement People Power, led a briefing today alongside his colleagues, to announce that five more MPs from the ruling Georgian Dream would join their ranks. MP Subari and four of his colleagues formally split from the ruling party in June, but both GD and People’s Power confirm that the this new group still supports the parliamentary majority.
The new MPs joining the movement are: Viktor Japaridze, David Kacharava, Eka Sepashvili, Irakli (Dachi) Beraia, and Zaal Mikeladze.
Ending by repeating a familiar line of the movement, Subari stressed, “in today’s most difficult environment, the only way to successfully keep Georgia secure and avoid threats to the country is to equip society with the truth. We believe that nothing can stand against the power of the people equipped with the truth in protecting the country’s interests.”
When the movement was founded, MP Subari said that it would “fight to gain the answers to many public policy questions which often have not been answered before, [and will] do everything to protect Georgia from the danger of war, and ensure that Georgia’s European path and integration is irreversible.”
After leaving the ruling party, the former deputies of the Georgian Dream launched an anti-Western campaign. They claim that the freezing of several hundreds of millions of euros belonging to Bidzina Ivanishvili by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse is connected with USA’s attempt to drag Georgia into the war. Despite abandoning the Georgian Dream, the MPs support all the initiatives of the ruling party in the parliament.
Speaking at the press conference today, MP Sozar Subari, mentioned on behalf of the People’s Power, that they will continue to sit with the majority, made up primarily of the Georgian Dream.
The Georgian Dream Chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze confirmed today that while there is a “tactical disagreement regarding how much truth should be told on certain issues” between GD and People Power, “there is no significant difference between us” on core values, “which allows us to remain together in the Parliamentary majority.”
MP Kobakhidze underscored that the two political entities have a “common position”. In particular, they will jointly support the government decisions concerning the European Commission’s 12 recommendations.