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Saakashvili Vows To Resist Abkhazia's 'Annexation'

Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo) 18 September 2005 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today vowed to resist what he described as Abkhazia's "intensive annexation" and to eliminate criminal gangs he claims are using South Ossetia as a safe haven.

Saakashvili made the remarks at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the founding of Georgia's patrol police.

"The intensive annexation of Abkhazia -- Georgia's most important and most beautiful territory -- is under way," Saakashvili said. "I will not tolerate that as long as I am alive. You and I will not allow that. There is also a criminals' den in [the South Ossetian capital of] Tskhinvali. These criminals are being supported from abroad. They stupidly think that we will tolerate that. Certainly, we will deal with that problem through political and peaceful means. But when it is necessary, we will take steps similar to those we already took to curb criminality there."

Saakashvili was referring to the police operation that last year threatened to rekindle a separatist war between Georgia and South Ossetia.

In his address, the Georgian president did not mention Russia, which Tbilisi accuses of arming and sponsoring South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Both provinces seceded from Tbilisi in the late 1980s and early 1990s after wars that turned into defeats for the Georgian armed forces.
(Imedi TV/Rustavi 2)