In: IFSH (ed.), OSCE Yearbook 2004, Baden-Baden 2005, pp. 221-235.
After a seven-year gap, Georgian independence day was once again cele- brated with a spectacular military parade on 26 May 2004. President Mikhail Saakashvili opened the festivities with a speech given in Georgian, Ossetian and Abkhaz: “The interests of each Ossetian living in Georgia will always be taken into consideration by the Georgian state [...] I also want to address the Abkhaz and urge them once again to enter talks in an effort to build up fed- erative relations [with Georgia] that would give them vast and internationally recognized guarantees of autonomy.”1 The display of military power was thus combined with an olive branch held out by the new government in Tbilisi, raising hopes once more of an end to the entrenched Georgian- Abkhaz conflict, which has seen both sides not only appeal to “historical facts” to justify their claims but also write their own bloody chapters of history in the last 15 years.
Both sides’ belief in the historical legitimacy of their claims, the superiority of their nation, and the uniqueness of their mission have often rendered them incapable of making rational political decisions. The fighting that claimed so many victims, created so many refugees, and destroyed infra- structure and trade links between August 1992 and October 1993 has left deep wounds in not only the Georgian and Abkhazian populations, but also among the other minorities in Abkhazia, such as Armenians, Greeks, and Russians.
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