Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visits Upper Abkhazia, attends meeting of legitimate government

A meeting of the government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia was held today in the village of Chkhalta. It was chaired by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. 
President Saakashvili is satisfied with the work of the legitimate government. He stressed the need for dialogue between the sides of the conflict and warned against declaring the pro-Georgian Abkhaz government illegal. 

"As long as Georgia exists and as long as there is a sense of justice, our state, our independent state will not reconcile itself to the legalization of the results of annexation and ethnic cleansing. If the legitimate government is to be relocated, it will be relocated only to Sukhumi. Our message is one of peace, negotiations, bilateral security guarantees, restoring human dignity and the unwavering defence of human rights. I hope that they will listen to my message in Sukhumi, which is very close by. Now is not the time fro hysteria, now is the time for serious negotiations," the Georgian president said at the meeting of the government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. 

Before arriving in Chkhalta, President Saakashvili visited the village of Azhara, where he met locals and toured newly-built facilities. He positively evaluated the progress of rehabilitation works under way there. Together with local children he watched a movie at the cinema, which was built in a span of two months, and later visited the recently opened branch of Sakhalkho Banki (People's Bank). 

The Georgian president announced plans to build a new road, as well as a ski resort and Patriot Camp, to which he invited all Abkhaz young people. 

Also today, President Saakashvili toured nearly all of the government buildings in Upper Abkhazia. He took special interest in the working conditions of local law enforcement officers. While meeting Chkhalta residents he promised to improve their living conditions and guarantee their safety. 

"I do not recommend that any military force poke its nose into these narrow valleys, because it might get its nose nipped. I say this will full responsibility," Saakashvili said. 

The Georgian president added that if the Abkhaz side agrees, Georgia is ready to finance and conduct rehabilitation works similar to those undertaken in the Kodori Gorge [Upper Abkhazia] on education and healthcare facilities in Gali District, in territory controlled by the separatist authorities. 

He charged the education minister of the legitimate Abkhaz government with ensuring the normal functioning of schools in Abkhazia and providing teachers with bonuses. President Saakashvili believes that Georgia is demonstrating its superiority not through sabre-rattling, but through carrying out a process of rebuilding. 

Mikheil Saakashvili also spoke of the need to write a new constitution in compliance with international standards and said that all political forces and ethnic groups should take part in the process of drafting the nation's new fundamental document. 

"Georgia can have a new constitution only after its territorial integrity is fully restored. We have no other choice. All political forces and ethnic groups, including all sides of the conflict, should take part in creating the new constitution. Of course we will welcome their involvement in this process," Saakashvili said.


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