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Paata Zakareishvili: “Georgia Has to Choose – To Lose Abkhazia or…”


Tamar Chkheidze, netgazeti.ge

Georgia has to choose – to lose Abkhazia or to allow people to keep in touch with their relatives in Abkhazia at least by phone – said conflict scientist Paata Zakareishvili in his conversation with the Netgazeti.

People have not been able to call in Abkhazia for about one week already. The phone communication was ceased unilaterally. Until now, people could call in Abkhazia with the support of both Georgian and Russian phone-codes, but now they can use only Russian one. It became the ground for the Georgian Regulation Commission to ban Georgian operators to call in Abkhazia with the Russian code.

-Phone communication with Abkhazia was ceased unilaterally; what do you think about it?

-It again proved unsuccessful politics of Georgia. It means Abkhazia is getting more and more isolated from Georgia and the international community.

If Georgia wants its population to have contact with their friends, relatives and neighbors in Abkhazia, they should allow them to use this code. Georgia has to acknowledge this reality or lose all kind links with Abkhazia – and they did the latter… Georgia has cancelled all kind links with Abkhazia.

-What will be the result of the unilateral suspension of the phone communication?

-Abkhazia will get more distant from Georgia. Relatives, friends, close people will not be able to get in touch with each other and it will finally result into more estrangement.

-Other countries call in Abkhazia with Russian phone-code…

-Russia gave its phone-code to Abkhazia. Legally, Abkhazia became the territory of Russia – I mean phone territory. The codes estimated by the Russian law work there too. Phone code –Seven- is working in the entire territory of Russia.

-For example, Germany does not recognize independence of Abkhazia but their tele-operator Deutsche Telekom connects its subscribers with Abkhazia by 7…

-Because this operator connects subscribers with Russia. They have to connect subscribers with the internationally recognized phone-code. Do you think, the entire world will rise against Russia and seize the code – 7 from them?

-Did Georgia take any measures to prevent Russia from granting its code to Abkhazia?

-We should not have bombed Tskhinvali – everything started there. When a person falls into a gap, then it has no sense how many times he will shake his hands and legs. The point is that we allowed Russia to provoke us and Russia encouraged us to launch war in Tskhinvali. Russia needed this war not because of the war, but they wanted Georgian Lari to be banned in Akhalgori district and to construct new military bases there; they wanted to block Georgian phone code in the regions. One can decide to fall into the gap but then gravitation controls his flight downwards.

-With the current reality, what should Georgian government do two years after the armed conflict?

-Our neighbor and partner country -Turkey has less influence in the world than Russia but they lead similar policy in the Northern Cyprus as Russia in Abkhazia. Turkey, which has less influence, acts according to its own decisions. The world cannot hinder even their activities because the local population is ready to accept what they are offered.

Our main point is to show different Georgia to Abkhazia. If we want to settle problems about phone-communication, we should turn it into a political problem and exchange these positions for 5-10 years.

Before August of 2008, Abkhaz people used Georgian phone-code but the provocation, venture and war in 2008 changed the situation. We should realize that the August war brought serious, disastrous results for us and not only Russia is accountable for it – Georgia and Georgian society are also responsible for it.

Tele-communication is not the biggest problem; I do not care about the territory either; I am concerned about the people who are getting more and more alienated from us. And the tele-communication also supports this process.

-How do you think, did Georgia have chance to choose?

-Today, Georgia has the same situation as Abkhazia had before 2008 when they used Georgian phone code.

Georgian state has to choose: either to lose Abkhazia even more or to allow its population to keep in touch with Abkhazia. Acknowledgement of the phone code does not mean that we recognize independence of Abkhazia.

The country is in awkward situation. The government has created serious problems for itself; I would have been sorry for them, if I were an ordinary spectator and had not lived here; but when it is happening in my own country, I cannot be sorry for them.

The communication is not that important here; the perspectives of the country have become very suspicious. Saakashvili’s government confuses and stupefies its population by façade infrastructural changes and on this background we are losing Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

-You contact your acquaintances in Abkhazia through internet and what do they say about new phone code if you have discussed this topic with them?

-It is not topic for discussion; it is reality – just like we say it is cold in winter. Georgian side has to find out solution of this problem. Abkhaz people do not care about it. They say – if you want to call us, dial 7; discussing this topic with them is useless.
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