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Saakashvili barred from entering Adjara
March 14, 2004
Civil Georgia News

Posted by HW on January 18, 2020

Refused entrance
President Saakashvili vowed earlier in March "to take control over Adjara," however he was not even permitted to travel to Georgia's defiant region on March 14. Saakashvili described an incident as "a serous challenge for the Georgian State." Officials in Tbilisi say President Saakashvili was barred from entering Adjara Autonomous Republic as armored vehicles and hundreds of armed men blocked administrative border between the Autonomous Republic and the rest of Georgia.

Negotiations in vain
Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze, who accompanied President Saakashvili, negotiated with the Adjarian side at the administrative border, however tried in vain to convince them not to prevent the President from entering Adjara.

"Saakashvili welcome, troops not"
Adjarian authorities explained that the Georgia's central authorities tried dispatch troops in Adjara under the pretext of Saakashvili's visit.
"We are not against the President's visit. He is the President of Georgia and is free to travel in any part of the country. But they intended to enter into Adjara with the troops. We will not permit this," Mayor of Batumi, Adjarian capital, Giorgi Abashidze, who is son of Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, told reporters later.
However, President Saakashvili told reporters later that he was "accompanied only by 30 bodyguards." "There were no troops," he added.

After an incident the President's convoy turned back and left for Poti, a town near Adjara. "We will not tolerate the situation, which is in Adjara; however I decided not to carry out radical and strict measures in order to avoid bloodshed. But I am not going to step back. I remain in Poti and I will convene today a cabinet meeting here. I want to tell Adjarian population: do not obey orders of the Adjarian leadership to take arms," Mikheil Saakashvili said.
"Georgia's troops are ready for everything, but we don't want to use them in this case in order to avoid bloodshed," the President added.

Warning to Russia
He also warned Russia, who has a military base in the Adjarian capital Batumi, not to interfere in Georgia's internal affairs. "Not a single Russian tank should move from the military base, because this [Adjara] is our territory," Saakashvili added. "It is a bad signal. Situation is very aggravated. President was foiled to enter Adjara to meet voters, it is absolutely inadmissible," Zurab Zhvania, the Prime Minister, who also arrived in Poti, told reporters.

The tensions extremely tensed between Tbilisi and Batumi on March 13, when the Adjarian police briefly detained Georgia's Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli, who was visiting Autonomous Republic for election campaigning of the ruling party. "If Abashidze intends to blackmail the Georgian president like a feudal lord, he is making a big mistake," President Saakashvili said on March 13.

Concern for control over Adjara
President Saakashvili has once visited Adjara on January 25, when he was official sworn in as a President of Georgia. Both Abashidze and Saakashvili together observed the military parade in Batumi on the inauguration day.
However, the tensions between Tbilisi and Batumi increased in early March, when Aslan Abashidze expressed concern that the central authorities seek for "total control over Adjara." In a response to this statement Saakashvili said that he will gain "control over Adjara."
Poti (Georgia) City
Baramidze, Giorgi (M) Politician Georgia
Saakashvili, Misha (M) Politician Georgia
Zhvania, Zurab (M) Politician Georgia
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