Georgia

UN Envoy rejects calls for peace enforcement in Abkhazia

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Meeting in Tbilisi on 31 January with Georgian Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze, UN Special Envoy for the Abkhaz Conflict Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini argued that the conflict can be solved only by political means, Caucasus Press reported. She expressed understanding for the frustration of Georgian displaced persons unable to return to their homes in Abkhazia but warned that calls by the Abkhaz parliament-in-exile for a UN peace-enforcement operation in Abkhazia will only complicate the situation and might lead to further bloodshed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January 2003). Interfax on 31 January quoted Kakabadze as saying that the 30 January UN Security Council resolution on Abkhazia will contribute little to resolving the conflict. Speaking at a press conference at the UN on 31 January, Georgian Ambassador to the UN Rezo Adamia accused Russia of providing "massive political and military support" to the Abkhaz over the past 10 years and of attempting to annex the breakaway republic, Reuters reported. On 1 February, the Georgian parliament adopted a statement similarly condemning Russia's support for Abkhazia and its "de facto annexation of part of Georgia," Caucasus Press reported. LF
ABKHAZIA ACCUSES GEORGIA OF SEEKING ITS ISOLATION

Abkhaz Prime Minister Gennadii Gagulia responded on 1 February to Adamia's allegations by accusing Georgia of seeking to isolate Abkhazia from Russia both politically and economically, Interfax reported. Gagulia warned that the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force from the Abkhaz conflict zone "will certainly result in a sharp increase in tensions and [possibly] even the resumption of hostilities," Caucasus Press reported. Following talks on 31 January with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, Gagulia said that Abkhazia is ready to begin talks on the repatriation of the Georgian displaced persons and the economic rehabilitation of the region. LF

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN CALLS FOR DIALOGUE WITH ABKHAZIA

Union of Traditionalists of Georgia Chairman Akaki Asatiani told the independent Rustavi-2 television channel on 2 February that the Abkhaz conflict can be settled only by "mutual reasonable compromises" and not by force, ITAR-TASS reported. He said Georgians and Abkhaz should reach agreement on their own on the optimum format for coexistence and the status of Abkhazia within Georgia. Asatiani participated in an OSCE-sponsored meeting between Abkhaz and Georgian representatives in London last month to discuss political approaches to resolving the conflict. LF

GEORGIAN LOCAL POLICE CHIEF SHOT DEAD IN ABKHAZIA

Zugdidi Raion Criminal Police Chief Beglar Tonia was shot dead late on 1 February in neighboring Gali Raion, Caucasus Press reported. Unidentified assailants opened fire with submachine guns, grenades, and handguns when Tonia and five colleagues approached a car that had earlier been reported stolen. LF

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