After spending only a few days in our country, Graeme Wood ("Limbo World," January/February 2010) dismissed Abkhazia as a "fake" country filled with "functionaries in neckties" whose language is a "linguistic freak show." Wood's flippant tone shows a lack of respect for our people and history. His misrepresentation of Abkhazia, past and present, is disappointing and discouraging.
On Dec. 12, in a turnout of 73 percent, 100,740 Abkhazians cast votes for a chief executive. President Sergei Bagapsh was re-elected with 59.4 percent of the vote in a vigorously contested race, declared fair and free of fraud by both international observers and local NGOs.
This is the third presidential election my country has held since gaining independence from Georgia in a bloody war 16 years ago. Despite ongoing hostilities from our larger neighbor, Abkhazia is rebuilding its war-damaged schools and hospitals and rewriting laws to meet international standards.
We are expanding relations with countries such as Russia and Turkey, modernizing our tourism industry so that visitors to the 2014 Sochi Olympics can enjoy our beaches, and rebuilding libraries so the next generation has the historical understanding to avoid past mistakes.
I do agree with Wood on one point: The post-Cold War world has not devised a satisfactory method for determining a country's legitimacy.
Still, while the justices at the International Court of Justice in The Hague debate the legitimate markers of statehood, Abkhazia's people are building a country. Like the founders of the United States, Abkhazians have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods for independence and understand that the mantle of nationhood is earned. We cherish that opportunity. We hope that someday Wood will return to our country with an open mind and a willingness to see what we are creating: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.