Presidental candidate resumes Campaign - Visits Occupation Line | Eurasia Diary -

24 March,

Presidental candidate resumes Campaign - Visits Occupation Line

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Salome Zurabishvili, presidential hopeful backed by the ruling party, has resumed active campaigning today. She arrive to Atotsi village of the Kareli municipality, southwest of Tskhinvali, where the Russian occupation forces launched the construction of barb-wire fences.

“I have arrived here to talk about my plans. I will be the President, who will never yield to provocations, who will defend this country and its citizens,” she told reporters.

Zurabishvili also stressed the need to intensify work with partners “to enhance security on the occupation line” and “not to turn this line into the border, which is a difficult balance to strike.”

The presidential candidate said, one of the first thing she’d do if elected, is to “travel to Afghanistan” to visit the Georgian soldiers serving in NATO-led mission there. “The Commander in Chief should go where the soldiers are”, she said.

Commenting on fencing in the village of Atotsi, Zurabishvili wrote in her Facebook post on November 7 that “it is yet another example of infringing upon country’s sovereignty that should be condemned and not only.”

“To protect the security of our population, we should launch closer cooperation with our partners on the issue of occupation line. As soon as I am elected to the office of the President, I will start working together with the EU Monitoring Mission and the American partners,” she wrote.

In a statement released on November 6, the “security service” of the Moscow-backed Tskhinvali authorities said the works for installation of “barrier fences” were renewed close to the Balta village in Znauri district, west of Tskhinvali on November 1. Later on the same day, the State Security Service, Georgia’s domestic intelligence service, confirmed that “illegal borderization” was underway near Atotsi village. State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili also arrived at the occupation line to condemn the ongoing borderization.

Speaking at a news briefing today, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said that “resumption of works to erect artificial barriers by the Russian Federation is a clear manifestation of its occupation policy.”

Candidate Zurabishvili courted controversy by making a statement seeming to accuse Georgia’s erstwhile government of launching the hostilities in 2008 the opening statement of her campaign.

This matter has become central to the first round of Presidential elections, which Zurabishvili has failed to win outright, keeping a razor-thin margin against Grigol Vashadze, of the United National Movement. Today, she was again challenged by the journalist to respond to the question “who has started the war in August 2008”, but declined to give a direct answer.


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