Interview with Sergey Bagapsh

Abkhazia says it was their air force that shot down a Georgian spy drone on Sunday. Abkhazian leader Sergey Bagapsh spoke exclusively to RT about the incident.

Sergey Bagapsh:The negotiations have reached a dead end. Georgia is constantly breaching the agreements that have been signed. After the war of 1993, talks began, we had a lot of contact and were trying to establish friendly relations.

Things changed when Saakashvili came to power: the military situation has become more tense, there've been constant threats.

We need to sign an agreement with Georgia on non-resumption of hostilities, in order to resolve issues peacefully, but Georgia does not want to do this.

Ideally we need to be an independent, neutral and democratic small state, where people will come for holidays, to admire nature.

Russia Today: Obviously the big news at the moment is the shooting down of the Georgian drone over Abkhazia. What do you know about that and who do you think is to blame?

S.B.: A year ago we asked the UN mission and the military observers and peacemakers to influence Georgia to stop reconnaissance flights over Abkhazia.

We wanted to avoid any tension. But the planes kept on coming, and taking photos. On March 14, the first plane was shot down. The second one came. We issued another warning. On Saturday we decided to shoot down this other plane as well. Today we shouldn’t be talking about how and with what we shot it down.

The international community and the UN Security Council should rather look at why these planes are flying over Abkhazian territory, and who's sending them.

Georgia sees the hand of Moscow everywhere. But there were no Russian planes there. It was our air force that shot the craft down. As for all the video they're showing, to try to prove that it was a Russian plane – it’s just an editing job.

RT: Russia has recently lifted the sanctions against Abkhazia. How much did it affect people there?

S.B.: It's hard to say so soon what the effect is of the sanctions being lifted.

I think this is a fair decision. When the sanctions were imposed in 1996 straight after the war, everything was in ruins, people had nothing to eat. Georgia introduced a blockade. No country can develop when it's being in a blockade for 15 years. So lifting the sanctions is a humane decision. People need normal living conditions in order to want to continue negotiations.