Abkhazia: West voices concern on violence
Against the backdrop of escalating violence in Abkhazia, French and American officials speak on the conflict.
Below is an article published by: International Herald Tribune
SUKHUMI, Georgia: The death toll from a bomb explosion in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia has risen to four, officials said Monday [7 July 2008], further worrying the West that the violence could worsen.
France, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said Monday [7 July 2008] it was very concerned. The Council of Europe warned that the violence could spin out of control.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which turned away from [Georgian] central rule after wars in the early 1990s, are the focus of growing tension between Tbilisi and Moscow, which supports the [regional authorities].
The explosion Sunday [6 July 2008] in the town of Gali, near the de facto border with Georgia, killed a local security chief, a translator from the United Nations mission and two others, officials said Monday [7 July 2008].
The [local authorities]and Russia say that Tbilisi is trying to stir up trouble in the region and that President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia wants to restore control by force.
The French Foreign Ministry called "on all parties to exercise the greatest restraint and for the resumption of dialogue as quickly as possible in order to avoid an escalation in violence."
The secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, [comments]:
"These murders risk further aggravation of the tensions in the country, and I am very concerned that the situation may spin out of control," he said.
Georgia, a U.S. ally seeking NATO membership, says Moscow wants to annex the regions, where Russia has peacekeepers. It accuses Moscow of using the [conflict] to fuel tensions.
President George W. Bush raised Russia's relations with Georgia at a meeting with President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia on the sidelines of the Group of 8 meeting in Hokkaido, northern Japan.
Medvedev "told Bush that we are committed to normalizing relations with Georgia, but unfortunately do not see an appropriate will coming from our Georgian partners," said Medvedev's foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko.