Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili opened on Thursday a new bridge over the country's border with the former Georgian republic of Abkhazia.
The 360-meter bridge, which runs over the River Inguri, links the west-Georgian Zugdidi region with Abkhazia's Gali region. Both regions have majority sub-ethnic Georgian Mingrelian populations. Many Mingrelians were expelled from Abkhazia after the republic broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s.
The new construction replaces an old bridge, which became too dangerous for use. Before the new bridge was opened, residents of the two villages had to travel 22 km (14 miles) to visit each other.
Nevertheless, the move is seen as yet another display of Tbilisi's unwillingness to regard Abkhazia as an independent state.