ABKHAZIA REJECTS GEORGIA'S PROPOSAL TO UNITE INTO SINGLE STATE

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TBILISI, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - The leaders of Abkhazia (self-proclaimed republic of Georgia) have rejected the proposal of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to unite into a single Georgian state.

"Uniting Abkhazia and Georgia into a single state is wholly out of the question", said Raul Khadzhimba, Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed republic.

"Abkhazia has taken the final decision on its status. We have adopted the constitution of an independent state and its status cannot and will never be discussed", he said.

"Abkhazia will never be part of Georgia", Sergei Shamba, Foreign Ministry of the self-proclaimed republic, said in the programme of the Georgian television company Rustavi-2.

"We have always declared that we will not consider models intending Abkhazia's becoming part of Georgia because it is contrary to the will of our people", Shamba stressed.

At the festivities marking the Independence Day on Wednesday, Mikhail Saakashvili said in Abkhaz and Georgian that he extends a friendly hand to South Ossetia (another self-proclaimed republic in Georgia) and Abkhazia and proposes start of talks on restoring the territorial integrity.

On the Independence Day a large military parade was be held in Tbilisi. In the interview to the Novosti-Georgia news agency, Interior Minister Georgi Baramidze called it a demonstration of the army's readiness to protect the interests of the country.

"This parade is a demonstration of force of today's Georgia, demonstration of the readiness of our armed forces at any time to protect the interests of our Motherland. But it does not mean that we are going on the crest of emotions to tank into Sukhumi (capital of Abkhazia) or Tskhinvali (capital of South Ossetia)", he said.

"We mark this day with not only emotions but also the understanding of our responsibility before our people and our citizens residing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia", Baramidze emphasised.

Georgia is getting on its feet and "we, naturally, are going to restore the territorial integrity of our state", he said.

"We can resolve this question in only the peaceful way both in Sukhumi and Tskhinvali", Baramidze said. He believes that Georgian citizens living in these regions will themselves do everything necessary to restore Georgia's territorial integrity by only the peaceful methods.

To Baramidze, Georgia can restore it in short span of time, "though not tomorrow or the day after".

"It will be the time when the conditions are ripe, when the economic and foreign political factors are in place", Baramidze stressed.

On the Independence Day, Georgia's capital Tbilisi staged the largest military parade in its recent history. The defile of over 8,000 servicemen, representing every fighting arm, about 300 military machines - over 110 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, 50 artillery systems, 25 antiaircraft artillery systems, 90 combat vehicles -- along the Tbilisi embankment lasted for over an hour. Twelve helicopters and five warplanes of the Georgian armed forces were in the skies above Tbilisi.

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