How did the Georgian government react to Lukashenko's visit to Sukhumi?
Lukashenko’s visit to Sukhumi
On September 28 the leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Abkhazia from Moscow. He met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow and then traveled to Sukhumi. His visit was not planned.
Lukashenko’s visit elicited a swift and strong response from Georgia.
What do the president and government say?
Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia:
“I strongly condemn the visit of Alexander Lukashenko to occupied Abkhazia. This is an unacceptable violation of the Law on the Occupied Territories of Georgia, our bilateral relations and the principles of international law.”
Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia:
“I strongly condemn the visit of Alexander Lukashenko to occupied Abkhazia and meetings with the Russian occupation regime. This step violates the law on the occupied territories of Georgia, contradicts both international law and bilateral relations between our countries.”
Juansher Burchuladze, Minister of Defense of Georgia:
“I would not advise the leader of any country to make such a mistake, the correction of which would cost his country dearly, as there may be no opportunity to correct this mistake at all. We will have the toughest reaction to the visit.”
Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament:
“Of course, it is absolutely unacceptable when the leader of another country enters the territory of Georgia without the consent of the Georgian authorities. And so a drastic diplomatic step was taken: the Foreign Ministry summoned the Belarusian ambassador, demanded an explanation therefrom, and now the Foreign Ministry is waiting for these explanations.
By itself this visit violates both international law and our law on the occupied territories. In addition, it contradicts relations between Georgia and Belarus. Therefore we hope that Belarus will return to the principles recognized by international law.”
Tea Tsulukiani, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture of Georgia:
“First of all, adequate assessments must be made, which will be done by the government. Of course, this is an unacceptable and I would say an unacceptable fact, because this is not only lawlessness. This is something that our state simply will not tolerate. Of course there will be a reaction. First of all from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But if it was planned that this story would go unnoticed, then this, to put it mildly, will not work.
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Lukashenko in Abkhazia
After Lukashenko’s visit to Sukhumi, the Belarusian Ambassador to Georgia Anatoly Lis was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to the agency, the Georgian side expressed extreme concern over the visit and demanded additional clarifications from Belarus.
Lukashenko met with de facto President of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhaniya at the government residence in Pitsunda.
According to Apsny-press, Aslan Bzhaniya welcomed Lukashenko and noted that in 1996, at a meeting of the CIS heads of state, it was Lukashenko who opposed the introduction of an economic blockade of post-war Abkhazia. For his part, Lukashenko stated that he discussed the issue of Abkhazia with President Putin until late at night, and they agreed that Abkhazia cannot be abandoned.
He also stressed that his visit to Abkhazia was not connected with any special situation and merely sough to “improve relations.”
Belarus did not recognize the independence of Abkhazia. In February, Lukashenko announced that he would recognize Abkhazia as an independent state “if necessary.” In June the special representative of the President of Belarus Viktor Sheiman visited Abkhazia, where he met with Bzhaniya.
Lukashenko’s visit to Sukhumi