Georgia: Tbilisi Hopes to Cooperate with Reelected Separatist Leader
The Georgian government condemned breakaway Abkhazia's December 12 presidential election as invalid, but the Georgian official in charge of relations with Sukhumi indicated that Tbilisi is nevertheless relatively content with the outcome.
State Minister for Territorial Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili told reporters on December 14 that incumbent Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh is not only the most convenient candidate for Abkhazia's patron, Moscow, but is also the least unacceptable for Tbilisi. "Hopefully, he will also prove in some form to be comfortable with dealing with" the Georgian government, Iakobashvili said.
Bagapsh's wife is ethnic Georgian, a fact that spurred optimism in 2004 when he was first elected president of Abkhazia; however, there have been no indications since then that Bagapsh has Tbilisi-friendly inclinations.
Bagapsh easily outpaced his competitors in the December 12 election to secure a second five-year term. Tbilisi, which does not recognize Abkhazia's independence, claimed that hundreds of Georgians were disenfranchised in the election.