Giorgi Baramidze, Georgia’s deputy prime minister and state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, said that he personally shares “sentiments” of a group of Georgian lawmakers who expressed their opposition to holding of Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, not far from Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia.
A group of lawmakers from parliamentary committees on foreign affairs and compatriots living abroad, as well as the parliamentary commission on territorial integrity discussed the issue at a meeting on November 19.
“The legislators consider that it is necessary to convince the international Olympic Committee, National Olympic Committees and the international community in the necessity of holding 2014 Winter Olympiad in a different country,” the Georgian legislative body’s press office said after the meeting.
Apart of the factor of occupation of Abkhazia, a ruling party lawmaker Nugzar Tsiklauri said after that meeting, Sochi Olympic Games “are planned to be held on the territory considered to be a place of genocide of Circassians.”
“According to the Olympic Charter, it is impossible to hold Olympic Games on the territory where the genocide of a nation took place,” MP Tsiklauri said.
No formal decision has yet been taken by the Parliament on the matter and lawmakers said that they would continue discussions to elaborate final position.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Czech Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, in Prague on November 25, Giorgi Baramidze said: “I personally express solidarity with the members of parliament, because I understand sentiments, I understand why they think that Russia does not deserve to be the host of the Olympic Games - because the Olympic movement is something different that Russia demonstrates today.”
"I don't think that the Olympic movement is something close to the killing of the hundreds of thousand people in North Caucasus, in Chechnya and elsewhere, killing its own journalists, putting in prison businessmen just because they have different opinions, and I don't think it's a good idea to occupy a neighboring country's territory. This place – Sochi – as you know is very close to the Georgian border, where we have illegal occupation… and I do not think that the Olympic spirit is anyhow close to the idea of not respecting international law, not respecting human rights,” he said.
In what he termed as “barbarian act”, Baramidze said, that recently Russia “repainted X century Georgian church and put on [the church] a Russian [style onion] dome… and destroyed frescos of the church” in Abkhazia.
“Everyday people are killed and raped on the ground [in Abkhazia], just few kilometers from Sochi,” Baramidze said.
Georgia was itself competing for hosting 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Borjomi and Bakuriani. But after Georgia’s bid was eliminated, President Saakashvili said in February, 2007, that Georgia would support Russia’s bid to hold the Olympics in Sochi.
“Olympic games in Sochi would foster peaceful processes in this region that has always been associated with conflicts. So in this regard, [Olympic Games in Sochi] will be a positive incentive for regional cooperation.” Saakashvili said at the time.