23/7 Tass 121
MOSCOW, July 23 (Itar-Tass) — Abkhazia wants to normalize relations with Georgia but Tbilisi’s current authorities have blocked all paths to a dialogue, Abkhazia’ s Prime Minister Sergei Shamba said on Saturday.
“We have hope that relations with Georgia will improve when the latter is ready for a dialogue,” he said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy (Moscow Echo) radio station. “Georgia’s current authorise however have shut a door to the dialogue close when they passed a law on occupied territories. We do not consider ourselves as an occupied territory. We contracted Russian troops under a bilateral agreement. There is no question of the withdrawal of Russian troops as a condition for dialogue with Georgia. We shall not compromise.”
He also said he hoped “Georgia’s policy will be more realistic and a process towards recognition of Abkhazia’s independence will emerge.”
According to Shamba, about 50,000 refugees have already returned to their homes in Abkhazia’s southern Gali district. “About 20,000 of them have already been granted Abkhazian passports. They are gradually adjusting in our society. We are taking efforts to involve them into the country’s economic life,” he said and added he was afraid that new conflicts might flare up if Georgian refugees return to localities that used to have mixed population.
“Our basic task is to use the resource we have under the agreement with Russia and to build a dynamic economy, democratic society, and create such conditions under which we will not be ignored. Already now, according to external estimates, Abkhazia gives rise to no critical remarks. It is absolutely obvious that the democratic process is developing in our country,” he stressed.
Shamba, who is running to Abkhazian president, said that if he is elected to the post he would change “the ruling team” through appointing young, enthusiastic people. “A young state, to my mind, is to be built by the young and enthusiastic people,” he noted.
On August 26, Abkhazia will hold early presidential elections following the death of its former president Sergei Bagapsh. Three men, acting President Alexander Ankvab, opposition leader Raul Khadzhimba and Prime Minister Sergei Shamba, have registered as candidates.