Op-Ed: what was achieved with the staged trip of Georgian politicians to Abkhazia?
As far as we can tell, the goal of the 18 August visit of two Georgian politicians to Abkhazia was achieved, to the satisfaction of all those involved, directly or indirectly – meaning Georgia, Abkhazia and Russia.
The leaders of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, Irma Inashvili and Giorgi Lomia were in Ilori Church, where they donated an icon of the Virgin Mary. The visit outrage the opposition in Abkhazia, leading to the resignation of the president’s advisor, Lasha Sakania, who accompanied the Georgian politicians.
This strange visit to Abkhazia by the leaders of a Georgian opposition party created a storm both in Tbilisi and in Sukhum.
The only victim of this story might be Lasha Sakania, and perhaps not even him. Sure, he resigned due to the scandal, but now he’s gone from being an obscure politician to country-wide infamy.
The leader of the Alliance of Patriots and vice-speaker of the Georgian parliament, Irma Inashvili triedto make a big deal out of their visit to Ilori Church. She says she had successful talks with the Abkhaz.
But not a single expert in Sukhum, or in Tbilisi, or anywhere else for that matter, has taken her seriously.
What sort of talks can you have when one “talker” happens to be the leader of a pro-Russian party with a tiny electorate in Georgia, and the other one is a freelance advisor to the president of Abkhazia? Aslan Bzhania would never have given such an important task as leading talks with the Georgians to him, if he were in his right mind.
If, for example, the elder statesman Sergei Shamba and the leader of the Georgian opposition party European Dream, Davit Bakradze, just happened to run into each other in Ilori Church, that would be a different thing entirely. Even the most hardcore skeptic would have to believe that it could be nothing else but real Georgian-Abkhaz talks.
So once again, let me reiterate who the major players in this story are:
● The leader of Alliance of Patriots has been dealt a trump card so trump that you could hardly even dream of it. On the eve of the parliamentary election she seized the opportunity to dupe her gullible constituents into believing that she was the only politician in Georgia capable of coming to terms with both the Russians and the Abkhaz, and she will reap all the rewards that come with that.
● Whoever is running the Alliance of Patriots in the Kremlin and set up this visit to Sukhum for Inashvili must be pretty pleased with themselves too. They managed to boost the ratings of their Georgian puppet party right on the eve of the elections.
● Aslan Bzhania, the president of Abkhazia, has purposefully avoided talking with Moscow ever since the beginning of his presidency. He gave the go-ahead for the staged talks, and built up some goodwill between the Kremlin and Sukhum.
● The Abkhaz opposition, represented by the veterans’ organisation, Aruaa, was disgusted by what happened and got some fuel following their loss in the 2020 presidential elections in March.
In total, all the players maneuvered themselves deftly and should be quite self-satisfied.
And now any real Georgian-Abkhaz talks (those which are going on in Geneva are not even worth considering) are not going to happen any time in the foreseeable future.
Because, neither of the interested parties is actually ready for talks.
But there will always be a ton of public relations on this topic.