Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba met in Sukhum on 26 February with four visiting European Parliament deputies and told them that Abkhazia will not agree to any talks with Tbilisi on Abkhazia's status, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. He recalled that 90 percent of the unrecognized republic's population voted in a referendum in 1999 to endorse the constitution adopted in 1994 that describes Abkhazia as an independent republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1999). Shamba also recalled that in 1992 Abkhazia proposed talks with Tbilisi on establishing a federation, but Georgia "preferred to send tanks into Sukhum" and committed widespread human rights violations and genocide during the 1992-93 war. He noted that a document was also drafted in 1997 on establishing a confederation, but Georgia has rejected it. Also on 26 February, ITAR-TASS quoted Shamba as saying that unspecified points contained in the new proposals for resolving the Abkhaz conflict discussed last week by the Friends of the UN Secretary-General group "are of interest" to Abkhazia, while others need further consideration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 February 2003). LF
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