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30 Sep, 2007 04:38

Abkhazia marks 14 years of `independence`

The breakaway republic of Abkhazia is celebrating Independence Day. September 30 marks the end of the military conflict with Georgia 14 years ago.

On 30 September 1993, Abkhazian soldiers raised their state flag on the border with Georgia after regaining control of the territory.

Abkhazia is located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, bordering the Russian Federation in the north and Georgia in the south-east. 

Internatonally, however, Abkhazia is still recognised as part of Georgia. 

The republic’s self-proclaimed independence followed a war with Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. 

Georgia's military were defeated.  A mass exodus followed, along with the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from Abkhazia.

More than 20,000 Abkhazians and ethnic Georgians died in the conflict.

In spite of the 1994 ceasefire, and the ongoing UN-monitored peacekeeping operation, the sovereignty dispute hasn't been resolved and the region remains divided between the rival authorities.

More than 80 per cent of Abkhazia's territory is controlled by the separatist government based in the city of Sukhumi. 

The rest of the region is governed by the Georgian government of Abkhazia, the only body internationally recognised as a legal authority.

Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili visited the Georgian-controlled Kodori Gorge on Saturday where he pledged to restore his country’s territorial sovereignty.
“During my presidency, I'll complete the process of Georgia's unification and the country's territorial integrity. This process should be made by peaceful means – the growth of the economy, reforms, strengthened democracy and the country,” he said.
Meanwhile the Russian State Duma is considering an appeal made by the de-facto authorities in Abkhazia calling for recognition of its independence.

Abkhazia insists it has all the attributes of an independent state.  However, international organisations, such as the EU and the UN, have confirmed their support for Georgia.  But they are urging Tbilisi to resume dialogue with Abkhazia.