CHAPTER 27 NEW HOT BEDS OF CONFLICT IN CAUCASUS

It would be hard for Georgia to fight in two fronts, so it applied to Russia to enter South Ossetia. The Osset oroblem remained unresolved. Its solution depended upon the future of the oil pipeline.

In 1993 the Georgian – Abkhaz confrontation grew. Again E. Shevardnadze declared that the loss of Sukhumi was equal to Georgian collapse. This was a political (even diplomatic) blackmail towards Russia. Some political analysists reminded that “Georgia owed Russia for its present day borders”.1

In early June a division of one thousand Abkhaz soldiers positioned in the Talish village, in 42 km’s distance from Sukhumi and 12 km’s from Ochinchir. They were ordered to block up the railway to Sukhumi. Sukhumi was deprived of Georgian assistance. There were all ditches around and the AGeorgian technics could do nothing in such an envirinment. The Abkahzes blew the bridge up and prepared for an attack on the city.

The Armenian hopes of the quick solution of the Abkhaz problem were frusterated. The blockade remained unlifted. On the whole the Armeno-Georgian relations had always been connected with diplomatic subtleties, even in the period of communist internationalism and brotherhood. They both are Christian nations, with nearly the same fate and roots and not for once had fought against a common enemy. The relations were especdially warm during the reign of a branch of Armenian Bagratids in Georgia. The Queen Tamar (Bagratid) entered into a treaty with the Armenians. Parallel to fraternal feelings, there existed inner nationalism which sometimes grew into enmity between the two nations. That sense became especially striking during the Abkhaz conflict, when t_e Hamshen Armenians, who lived in their own villages in Abkhazia, didn’t avoid participating in the clashes. The Georgian violences in the Armenian villages made their orientation clear. The Georgians looted and burned down the Armenian villages, slaughtered the inhabitants, raped the women. _he Armenian villages Gumista, Ashadar, Labra, Lechkop, Atara were completely ruined. In the Ochamchir and Gulripski regions about 20 Armenian and Abkhaz settlements were laid to the ground. This situation reminded the early 18th century Karabakh events, when the Georgian soldiers deprived their Armenian brothers-in-arms even of personel belongings. After the destruction of Gumista the Armenian men rose in arms to defend their families from the Greogian Christian brothers. As to the Armenians remaining under the Georgian control, “supported the Georgians in the issue of territorial integrity and were ready, as full-right citizens of Georgia to arm and defend its interests” (Demokraticheskaya Abkhazia, newspaper).2

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