“We have to take extraordinary measures in order to return not Abkhazia, but to return Abkhazians… If we want to return Abkhazians, we should save them,” Areshidze said.
“Return of Abkhazians will be impossible if we leave them in the situation in which they currently are. Russia is vigorously changing demographic landscape of Abkhazia."
He said that Russia’s policy of encouraging its military personnel serving in Abkhazia and their families to stay in the region after end of service would further change the demographic situation by decreasing already diminished share of ethnic Abkhazians.
He said that independence for Abkhazia should not in any way be unconditional and it should be linked to set of preconditions, including return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
“I am not saying that we should directly give Abkhazia independence and put an end on that. We should put forth preconditions in the context of giving independence, for example return of refugees,” Areshidze said and added that by recognizing Abkhaz independence Tbilisi will distance Sokhumi from Moscow.
“That would be the only way for us to speak with the Abkhazians in presence of the international community without Russia,” Areshidze said.
“I want to say one thing: the time of traditional approaches is over. Our adversary, which has very strong political, diplomatic, as well as military resources, outdistances us in every way. So we have to make such a surprise move which will disarm our adversary – that means the move which will distance our adversary from the Abkhazians,” he said.
The case of South Ossetia is different, Areshidze said."