10 Jul 2019 12:03

Georgian FM describes Russia's approach to history of Abkhazia, S. Ossetia as 'tendentious'

TBILISI. July 10 (Interfax) - Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has described Russia's opinion that Abkhazia and South Ossetia have not been historical parts of Georgia as "tendentious."

"This does not sound new to us. Such statements are an example of subjective and tendentious interpretation of historical facts. Speaking of history, we should say that Georgia's history did not begin in the 18th or the 19th century. There are plenty of facts in the centuries-old history of Georgia evidencing that Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region have been an important part of Georgia. Let historians be the judge," Zalkaliani told the press on Wednesday.

Tbilisi has not changed its mind on the subject of restoring its territorial integrity, and is doing everything it can to find a peaceful solution, he said.

"The territorial integrity of Georgia is recognized by the international community," Zalkaliani said.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Georgian politicians, who are rocking the domestic political situation and leading to an escalation in relations with Russia, to remember history, and gave a piece of advice as to how to build relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"This anti-Russian sentiment is being fanned in Georgia by the people who either don't know a thing, or know but ignore it. And ultimately they're doing damage to Georgia itself and to its people," Putin told journalists in Yekaterinburg.

Putin went on to recall that Ossetia was an independent nation when it became part of the Russian Empire in the second half of the 18th century, and Abkhazia came into the Russian Empire as a principality.

"Later developments started to take place when [the two were] parts of one state: the southern part of Ossetia became part of the Tiflis Governorate, with no Georgia there at the time. When the Russian Empire collapsed after World War I, Abkhazia [...] was subjected to an attempted hostile takeover by Georgia, the country that occupied Abkhazia with the help of German troops in 1918," Putin recalled, adding that the foreign invaders acted in a very harsh way.

"The way the Georgian troops acted in Ossetia in 1919-1920 was even harsher," he said.

"All that is what we call genocide today," Putin said.

"It would be good for today's Georgian authorities to know all this and not forget it if they want to forge relations with the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," he said.

In Soviet times, "first, the contractual Abkhaz Socialist Republic was founded, and what is Georgia today was a part of that," Putin said. That changed under Stalin: Abkhazia became part of the Socialist Republic of Georgia.

"It is strange that our human rights activists never pay attention to it, but on Stalin's order, the NKVD [People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs] led by Beria took very strict measures against the Abkhazians in a bid to take over the territory and the Abkhaz people," he said.

According to Putin, "one of the first presidents of modern Georgia did not just take this heavy legacy into account but completely disregarded it, when he abrogated the autonomy of both Adjara and Abkhazia." "That resulted in an explosion and a fratricidal war," he said.

Putin said that at one time he tried to convince former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili to refrain from any military action against Abkhazia and Ossetia and persuade the United States against it.

"But no, they waged a war there. The outcome is well known. Russia was simply forced to recognize the independence of these republics and defend the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," he said.