Apr 13, 2005

Abkhazia and Georgia Debates "South-Tirol Model"

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili called South Tirol a model for peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia
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One more round of Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations held through the UN intermediary ended in Geneva last week. The Georgian delegation was headed by Georgy Khaindrava, state minister for conflicts settlement. Sergy Shamba, foreign minister of Abkhazia, led Abkhazia's delegation. When the talks were over, both delegations jointly left for the South Tirol province, generally viewed in Tbilisi as a model for peaceful settlement in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Evaluation of Geneva’s talks is simply opposite. After the meeting, Shamba denied not only any progress in negotiations but the mere fact of the negotiations itself. Shamba said the parties separately met the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General on solving Georgian-Abkhazia's conflict and spelled out their position.

Strange as it might seem, but according to Khaindrava, the negotiations took place, they were constructive and useful. First time since 1994, Abkhazia's party agreed that representatives of the so-called Abkhaz government-in-exile could join the talks.

When the meeting in Geneva was over, both Georgian and Abkhazia's delegation jointly headed for South Tirol, province of Italy recently called by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili a model for peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In Tbilisi, the real sensation was the news that Steven Mann, special advisor of the U.S. president on Eurasian issues, paid a brief visit to Suhkumi yesterday. The purpose of the visit could be to persuade the presidents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to visit Tbilisi in time of the tour of U.S. President George W. Bush and to hold peaceful negotiations there, Georgian media said.

Georgian media reported Abkhazia's President Sergey Bagapsh would like to go, but fears to offend Moscow. Therefore, a compromise variant is currently elaborated, so that not the presidents of the self-proclaimed states but their foreign ministers would go to Tbilisi.

Source: Kommersant