Flag Day in Abkhazia

On the 23rd of July, Abkhazians celebrated their National Flag Day. On this date in 1992, Abkhazia declared itself independent.

Last week Abkhazians gathered in Sukhum, the capital city of Abkhazia, to celebrate their National Flag Day. The flag, along with the state emblem, was adopted by the Supreme Council of Abkhazia on the 23rd of July 1992. The flag, designed by Valeri Gamgia, was inspired by the 1918 flag of the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus. Like numerous flags around the world, symbolism plays a strong role in this flag as well. The green colour symbolises youth, white - spirituality, and red - life. The seven stars represent the seven historic regions which correspond to the seven modern districts of Abkhazia, and the palm, used since ancient times, symbolises Abkhazian statehood.

On the 23rd of July 1992 the Supreme Council of Abkhazia also changed the name of Abkhazia to the “Republic of Abkhazia” and abolished the Constitution of the 1978 Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which had placed Abkhazia within Soviet Georgia. In its place, until the adoption of a new constitution, the 1925 Constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia was adopted. A new constitution was adopted by the Supreme Council in 1994 (celebrated as constitution day on 26th November). In 1999 the constitution was also accepted by the Abkhazian people via popular referendum, following which the Parliament once again declared and confirmed Abkhazia’s sovereignty and independence.

Thus, the 23rd of July 1992 may be seen as the day on which Abkhazia declared itself an independent and sovereign state. However, Independence Day (Victory Day) is officially celebrated on the 30th of September, which commemorates the victory over Georgian forces in 1993.

Ramesh Ganohariti is PhD candidate at Dublin City University and one of De Facto’s explorers.