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Abkhazians Have Their Rights, Too [Letters to the Editor - WSJ], by George Hewitt

It is a pity that Melik Kaylan did not take the time to visit Georgia's "occupied territories" before writing his commentary on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, instead of swallowing the propaganda seemingly fed to him over dinner by Temur Iakobashvili, Georgia's minister for reintegration ("Georgia and the limits of Russian Power," op-ed, Aug. 13).

Mr. Kaylan depicts a place heavily occupied by Russian forces where "no competitive legitimate business flourishes . . . only corruption, smuggling, gambling, alcoholism and weapons training." I have been in Abkhazia for five weeks and have yet to see any gun-toting Russians and find this description bears no resemblance to what I see around me.

Mr. Kaylan's insistence on referring to the fledgling countries as occupied territories is a gratuitous insult to Abkhazia's 18-year struggle to gain independence from Georgia. No one in Abkhazia has any desire to exist within a unitary Georgian state. Tbilisi's promises of "maximal autonomy" in a unified state are meaningless to those who experienced such "autonomy" during the Soviet period; for them it is tantamount to being a dirty word.

Two new states emerged from Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's reckless assault on South Ossetia on Aug. 7, 2008. There can be no going back, and the world needs to move on. There can be no real progress for regional harmony in Transcaucasia until Georgia officially reconciles itself to its losses, recognizes the new republics and looks to build a more peaceful future based on good-neighborly relations with them.

George Hewitt
London

Mr. Hewitt is the honorary consul of Abkhazia to the U.K.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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