Abkhazia: Athletes Prevented from Participating in Yerevan
Following Georgian political pressure, Abkhazian competitors were discharged from the International Freestyle wrestling tournament in Armenia last week [21 – 23 October 2015]. The move violated the non-interference of policy in sport and highlighted the lack of progress the new government has made in fostering good relations with Abkhazia.
Below is a press release from the Abkhazian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
As is known, from 21 to 23 October Yerevan hosted the International freestyle wrestling tournament dedicated to the memory of honored coach Vagan Zatikyan. Sportsmen from Abkhazia, Iran, Georgia, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine were invited to participate in the tournament. However, after the intervention of the Georgian Embassy in Armenia Abkhazian athletes were excluded from participation in the tournament.
With deep regret we have to state that this outrageous fact took place in Armenia, the Republic that Abkhazia considers a friendly country, given the presence of a large Armenian Diaspora in Abkhazia, excellent relations between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, as well as a natural sympathy between the Armenian and Abkhazian people, who are largely brought together by similarity of historical fates. It is difficult to find an excuse for the decision of the Armenian authorities and the tournament organizers who were led on a string of the Georgian hawks.
This fact is similar to the recent refusal to issue Schengen visas to the National football team of the Republic of Abkhazia to participate in the European championship of the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA) in Hungary, the denial of participation of the Abkhaz children's dance group in the program of the international festival in Turkey, the episode with the protest of the Georgian Embassy in Germany against the participation of the delegation of the Abkhazian Chamber of Commerce in the "Green Week-2015" in Berlin. This and many other cases are proof that the policy of Georgia in relation to Abkhazia, despite the change of government, has not changed and is still based on outdated stereotypes and unworthy attempt to isolate the people of Abkhazia from the outside world.
Once again was violated the principle of non-interference of policy in the sport. A clear expression of discrimination against Abkhazian athletes is a shameful desire of Georgia to place sport at the service of its low political purposes.
The attempts of the Georgian side by any means to limit the participation of the Abkhaz athletes in international competitions indicate the continuation of the policy of isolation of the Abkhaz people and in practice prove the worth of demagogic statements by Georgian politicians about the commitment to constructive dialogue and openness.
Abkhazian Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the ongoing attempts of Georgia to counter Abkhazian contacts with the outside world and will continue to consistently uphold the principle of civil and political rights of the citizens of Abkhazia abroad. The outrageous fact of discharge of athletes from Abkhazia to participate in the International freestyle wrestling tournament in Yerevan will be reflected in the International discussions in Geneva scheduled for December of this year.
photo courtesy of Tigran Ghardashyan