Georgian, Abkhaz military prepare to take over peacekeeping functions in Abkhazia

Meanwhile the Georgian Armed Forces General Staff has prepared a contingency plan to deploy Georgian troops "to maintain the status quo" in the Abkhaz conflict zone should the Russian peacekeeping contingent be withdrawn, Interfax and Caucasus Press quoted Deputy Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili as saying on 23 January. He did not divulge further details. On 21 January, Abkhaz Deputy Defense Minister Garri Kupalba told journalists in Sukhum that Abkhazia is ready to deploy its servicemen at the control posts currently manned by the Russian peacekeepers should that force be withdrawn, Caucasus Press reported. LF

Representatives of the OSCE office in Georgia met on 23 January in Sukhum with Abkhaz parliament chairman Nugzar Ashuba to discuss the economic and social situation in the unrecognized republic and unspecified aspects of the ongoing search for a political solution to the conflict, Caucasus Press reported. Ashuba said such a solution depends primarily on the attitude of the five states that belong to the "Friends of the UN Secretary-General Group," one of which, Ashuba said, is biased in favor of Georgia. He was most likely referring to the United States. Meanwhile, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba's representative in Moscow, Igor Akhba, told RIA-Novosti that Georgian claims to have transferred international humanitarian aid to Abkhazia are "a blatant lie," and that Abkhazia "has not received a single cent" of such aid, Caucasus Pres reported on 23 January. LF


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