Tbilisi, March 28
Part of Saakashvili’s statement in which he speaks about Tbilisi’s proposals to Abkhazia:
We should offer an alternative to the Abkhazians. As far as economy is concerned, we will create a great [free] economic zone – and we have already adopted relevant laws – in Poti and generally, in Samegrelo and Guria regions and we offer them [the Abkhaz side] to create similar [free] economic zones in Ochamchire and Gali.
We, Tbilisi and Sokhumi should together open great [free] economic zones without participation of others, which will be controlled by Georgian and de facto Abkhazian authorities. Of course, a free economic zone envisages freedom, more freedom and less control. I offer them to use empty Ochamchire and Gali for a free economic zone. Ochamchire has a port, which is very important for this purpose. Both Gali and Ochamchire have huge territories, which are absolutely unoccupied. We offer them to immediately launch negotiations on economic development of this territory.
Another issue what we also offer them is the Abkhaz representation in all bodies of the Georgian central authorities. We offer them the position of vice-president of Georgia and we offer them the right to veto all those decisions by the central authorities which concern or will concern their constitutional status, as well as all important preconditions for saving and developing their culture, language and ethnicity. They will have guaranteed representation in all bodies of the Georgian government. This is an unusual move. We are ready to discuss it in the nearest weeks as soon as the negotiations are launched and solve these constitutional issues together. I am sure that all representatives of the Georgian parliament, both of the sitting and the future ones, will join us in this drive.
We are ready to offer the Abkhazians many other security guarantees, our security structures should merge gradually, without any haste. We should create a joint customs-border space and naturally we should provide full autonomy on the ground.
We offer the Abkhazians to immediately resume talks over all these issues. Absence of talks, mostly due to influence of external factors, is the key problem and the key reason for deadlocking the situation.
There are no issues, which we and the Abkhazians could not solve through negotiations, expect for Georgia’s disintegration – I want to stress it. All other issues – unlimited autonomy, wide federalism and very serious representation in the central governmental bodies of Georgia – will be guaranteed, including with the participation and support of international guarantors.
I ask the Russian Federation to get involved in this process, although Russia is not a mediator today; it is a party in the conflict. We ask them [the Russian side] to move from being a party in the conflict towards becoming a mediator in the conflict. I have clearly indicated and told the UN Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon] that the current [peacekeeping] format is unacceptable. We should all work over radical changing of this format.
Russia is not a mediator, even formally, after it has quitted the mechanism of sanctions [by withdrawal from the 1996 CIS treaty on imposing sanctions on Abkhazia]. But we offer them mediation together with the international community. If we work over these issues [Tbilisi’s proposals], I am sure that the ice will melt. Otherwise, we and Abkhazians, entire Georgia, including Abkhazians will face an obscure and risky future. We should do our best to ensure that the interests of this little nation do not become a victim of this great geopolitical game, as well as to avoid that the issue of its physical, spiritual and cultural existence is questioned. These people should feel that Georgia is not a problem for them. Georgia helps them to save and develop their nation. We have never offered them so much at an official level, as we are offering now.