TBILISI -- Georgia's president and prime minister have issued separate statements voicing hope for reconciliation on the 25th anniversary of the outbreak of war over the breakaway Abkhazia region.
In his statement on August 14, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili called the start of the military conflict in 1992 "a huge mistake" and said it was "a tragic day."
He expressed confidence that Georgia will be able "to return the hearts of our Abkhaz brothers and continue our coexistence with centuries-old love and mutual respect behind us."
"The history of our coexistence is exemplary and we have no right to live in such a reality -- an external force should not stand between us," Kvirikashvili stressed, referring to Russia and the presence of Russian troops in Abkhazia.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili took a more accusatory tone toward Moscow, saying "Russian state policy nurtured by Soviet imperialism played an important role in the fratricidal war."
Referring to Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia, Margvelashvili said that the only way to restore Georgia's territorial integrity was through "steadfast observance of peace, as well as the principled international and neighborhood policy, restoration of trust and cooperation with [Abkhaz and South Ossetian] compatriots, and the overall development of the country."
The 1992-93 war in Abkhazia ended with withdrawal of Georgian forces from the region. More than 12,000 people died during the 13-month conflict, and about 300,000 remain displaced.
Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states following a five-day war with Georgia in August 2008, but almost all other countries in the world consider them part of Georgia.
Russia maintains thousands of troops in the two regions, and Georgian authorities have accused Moscow and the separatists of taking control of additional territory in recent months.