Abkhazia: UN Official Visits Sokhumi, Discusses Situation in Gali
Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh reiterated at the meeting with Walter Kalin, Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the human rights of Internally Displaced Persons, in Sokhumi on December 22, that the Abkhaz side still deems it inappropriate to open UN/OSCE human rights office in the predominantly Georgian-populated Gali district of breakaway region, Apsnipress news agency reported.
Bagapsh said during talks that the UN human rights office,
which is located in the Abkhaz capital Sokhumi, 70 kilometers away from Gali,
is capable to monitor situation in the Gali district without opening additional
Bagapsh admitted that the criminal situation in Gali remains tense, but vowed that the Abkhaz authorities spare no efforts to improve situation there. He also reiterated that the Abkhaz side is against of deployment UN police component in the Gali district.
The Police Component of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which consists of 11 officers, currently operates only on the Georgian side of the administrative border, in the Zugdidi district, which borders the unrecognized republic’s Gali district. The UN police aims at improving security conditions by assisting in training and equipping local law enforcement agencies.
During visit in Sokhumi, UN official also met with Abkhaz Prime Minister Alexander Ankvab and Foreign Minister of breakaway region Sergey Shamba. Situation in the Gali region as well as draft agreement between the Abkhaz and Georgian sides on non-resumption of hostilities were discussed during the meeting.
Prime Minister of the breakaway region Alexander Ankvab denied that the Abkhaz side intends “to forcefully” grant Abkhaz citizenship to those ethnic Georgians who reside in the Gali district, but also reiterated that the Abkhaz side will never allow double Abkhaz-Georgian citizenship for the residents of Gali.
“Those who consider themselves as citizens of Abkhazia will become [Abkhaz citizens], but we will not let double citizenship with Georgia,” Ankvab said and added that there have been no cases of forceful conscription of ethnic Georgians in the Abkhaz army.
He also denied that the Abkhaz side restricts teaching local Georgians in Gali in their native Georgian language in schools. “But we are against of teaching from those text books, which are published in Georgia, where history of Abkhazia is distorted,” Ankvab added.
While commenting on agreement on non-resumption of hostilities, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba said that work over this document “continues and reigning of the agreement is planned on the level of Presidents of Abkhazia and Georgia.”