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Question for the Incoming US Administration

Question for the Incoming US Administration Concerning the Republic of Georgia

1. John McCain
Following a short visit to Georgia in the late summer of 2006 the Republican Party's presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, stated on Georgian television that he hoped that the breakaway regions (sc. of Abkhazia and South Ossetia) would soon learn what it is like to live in freedom, by which he meant that life would be better for them, if Tbilisi could reassert its control.

2. Hillary Clinton
One of the two Democratic Party's hopefuls to achieve nomination as presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has now publicly stated her objection to the (welcome) recent moves by Russia towards Abkhazia and S. Ossetia, complaining about President Putin's moves to undermine the 'young democracies' on Russia’s southern periphery, conveniently forgetting that Abkhazia has been developing its own democratic institutions for the last 15 years.

3. Barack Obama
The views on this issue of the third potential presidential candidate are keenly awaited.

Fact 1
Towards the end of the first month of the Georgian-Abkhazian war (1992-93) the young man who had been put in charge of the Georgian troops operative in Abkhazia since Eduard Shevardnadze's invasion of 14th August 1992, 26 year-old Gia Q’arq’arashvili, while being interviewed in Russian for a TV-broadcast issued the chilling threat that he would sacrifice 100,000 Georgians to wipe out all 93,000 Abkhazians inside Abkhazia, so long as Georgia's borders remained inviolate...

Fact 2
Most of 1993 saw a military stand-off, with the two forces facing each other over the River Gumista, to the north of Abkhazia's capital Sukhum. That year the April edition of Le Monde Diplomatique published an article on the war which included a worrying quote from Giorgi Khaindrava, Minister for Abkhazia in Tbilisi (and for many of the post-war years the man responsible for negotiating with the Abkhazians on behalf of the Georgian government), for it demonstrated that the threat from Q’arq’arashvili (who had resigned as military commander in Abkhazia after the loss of Gagra on the pretext of having suffered a nervous breakdown, only to be appointed by Shevardnadze a few weeks later as new Minister of Defence in place of T’engiz K’itovani, who had led the troops into Abkhazia) of the previous August had been no accidental slip of the tongue. He clinically observed that all the Georgians needed to do to wipe out the Abkhazians was to kill their gene-pool of 15,000 young men, stressing 'we are perfectly capable of this'...

QUESTION
Georgia's first post-communist president, the late Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was responsible for initiating a 2-year war in South Ossetia (1990-92). Georgia's 2nd post-communist president, Eduard Shevardnadze, was responsible for starting the 14-month war in Abkhazia, during which the Abkhazians suffered the loss of 4% of their population. Georgia's third post-communist president, Mikheil Saak’ashvili, in 2006 sent militiamen into the one region of Abkhazia over which the Abkhazians never managed to secure control at the end of the 1992-93 war, namely the Upper K’odor Valley, in direct contravention of the peace-accords signed in Moscow in 1994 by both parties to the conflict — they are still there and reportedly being reinforced. So, taking into consideration the overt threats of soldier Q’arq’arashvili and politician-negotiator Khaindrava as well as the constant belligerent rumblings from Saak’ashvili about his intention to restore Georgia's territorial integrity, how many more of their population (specifically those of child-bearing age) should the Abkhazians (and southern Ossetians) see exterminated before Washington's champions of freedom and democracy finally twig what renewed subordination within 'free' and 'democratic' Georgia would mean for these two ethnic groups?

George Hewitt
Honorary Representative for Abkhazia in the UK

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