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Memory Toast to Georgian and Abkhaz Soldiers

October 6, 2010
 Koba Liklikadze, Radio “Liberty”

Much was said on the 17th anniversary after the defeat of Sokhumi but the words of the General Giorgi Karkarashvili made impression on me. “Today, our gathering looks like a toast. I want to remember the soldiers who died on our side and make a memory toast to those who were killed by us.”

In Sokhumi, where the governmental officials of the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia and veterans celebrated the liberation of Sokhumi, nobody made similar statement. Georgian officer, who fought in Abkhazia, lost his brother in the war and got disabled by the bullet of an enemy, turned up more generous than those who consider themselves winners, and calls Abkhazia – liberated and independent state.

But, maybe we cannot hear the words and feelings of the Abkhaz people from across the Enguri River because of the informational vacuum between us. Maybe we are not the only generous people. I think, somebody is making a toast at a party in Sokhumi, Gulripshi or in Ochamchire or lights a candle in a small, abandoned church for the souls of the Georgian soldiers, who were killed 17 years ago; maybe s/he also regrets the cruelty of his/her compatriots who ruthlessly killed Jiuli Shartava, Mamia Alasania, Guram Gabiskiria and other officials of the that time government of Abkhazia; or for the shooting of the priest Father Andria of the church in the village of Kamani and the restorer of the church Abkhaz Iuri Anua.

Are there a lot of people on our side who think like Giorgi Karkarashvili on the 17th anniversary after the falling down of Sokhumi? Let us remember smug, militarist statements and insulting appeals towards Abkhaz people from Tbilisi; how many provocations, “bloody” races” or subversive operations were planned in the offices of the Georgian governmental officials during the last 17 years? How many times we have promised the population to return to Abkhazia via Kodori Valley which we yielded on August 11, 2008 shamefully without any struggle.

But I already hear the shouting in astonishment: “Of course, it was correct. What do you want then?! We should gain the land lost through the war only through the war! Being generous towards enemy means cowardness today and instillation of the loser’s spirit in the nation! We lost a battle but the war is still going on.” “This struggle has not finished yet. We have to finish what they have started; what our boys sacrificed their lives to,” these words were said at the Hero Memorial in Tbilisi on September 27, 2010. They belong to a young Georgian minister who was a little boy during the war in Abkhazia. Because of his current position and knowledge of the modern international politics he might have more right to speak about the war, peace, future victories and battles.

I am sure we will have victories. “What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down,” I always remember these words of Richard Nixon when I think about the falling down of Sokhumi.

But now, I am in different mood. Today I also want to join the memory toast of Giorgi Karkarashvili and other generous veterans who fought, were wounded and endured defeat in the war but still remained generous: I want to make a toast to the dead Georgian soldiers and to those who were killed by the bullets of Georgian soldiers.