President Saakashvili praises Georgian Orthodox patriarch, hails UN resolution on Abkhazia as

On 15 October Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili attended a special reception in the parliament building honouring Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his enthronement.

"First of all I want to thank His Holiness, Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II for inviting the delegation from the Ecumenical Partriarchate of Constantinople to Georgia. Their visit to this country was truly unforgettable. It is thanks to His Holiness that so many respected church figures visited us," he said.

The president also commented on the UN Security Council resolution adopted just a few hours before.

"I want to speak about the UN resolution adopted in New York today. This is the first major step forward that has been taken by international organizations in relation to Abkhazia. For the first time a UN resolution contains a clearly articulated passage on the return of the refugees to the whole of Abkhazia, not only to Gali District, as they had been writing before. And it speaks precisely of mechanisms: all of their property - that of the people expelled as a result of the conflict - is from this day forward protected under a UN resolution," Saakashvili said.

"This means that every foreigner who sticks his nose in from Sochi or Krasnodar or somewhere else - and there are many government officials among these foreigners, including the governor of [Russia's] Krasnodar [Territory; Aleksandr Tkachev] - have bought property in Abkhazia in violation of not only Georgian legislation, but also of a UN Security Council resolution, which is the highest act in international law. Accordingly, Georgia has the right to act, together with the international community, to curb these violations within the framework of peaceful mandate.

"We support the peaceful and political resolution of the Abkhazia conflict, but it is very important that all kinds of remarks about the Ganmukhuri camp which were originally to have appeared in this resolution have disappeared from it because we staked out a principled position and said that we would not relocate the Ganmukhuri camp anywhere under any circumstances.

"We staked out a principled position and said that we would never reconcile ourselves to - as they used to tell us sometimes - [proposals on] somehow redistributing the refugees and making them give up on returning to Abkhazia. Neither the Georgian state nor the refugees will ever reconcile themselves to that. We held multilateral negotiations and clearly explained to everyone that the jurisdiction of the Georgian state over Abkhazia must be restored through political means and every person's rights must be protected.

"I think that this is truly an important diplomatic breakthrough, though it is not everything we want. The next step we ask the UN to take is not a general acknowledgement that these people had to leave their homes, but also that what happened was an act of ethnic cleansing, with all the corresponding legal consequences and criminal responsibility for all persons who committed ethnic cleansing. In this regard we have a great amount of work ahead of us and of course this work will be completed only when peace is restored in Abkhazia and when people of all ethnic origins return to their homes," the president concluded.

Includes BBC Monitoring material

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