President Of Georgia States Impossibility To Withdraw Cis Peace-keeping Forces From Conflict Zone In Abkhazia

The president of Georgia states impossibility of withdrawing the CIS peace-keeping forces from the conflict zone in Abkhazia (a self-proclaimed republic on the territory of Georgia) at this stage, the RIA Novosti correspondent reports. In his Monday interview with National Radio Eduard Shevardnadze stated that he cannot agree to the pullout of the Collective Peace-Keeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States from the Abkhaz conflict zone in a situation when the question of the replacement of the CIS peace-keepers by international peace-keeping forces has not been decided. "As long as even a theoretical threat of war exists I will categorically oppose taking such a decision which will create a threat of a new bloodshed", Shevardnadze said. He noted that "the friendly countries which have done very much for Georgia - the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany, to say nothing of Russia, view as unwarranted the withdrawal of the peace-keeping forces from the conflict zone in such a situation". Speaking about the prospect of an international peace-keeping operation in Abkhazia, Shevardnadze expressed the opinion that "after the September 11 terrorist acts in the USA and the beginning of the allout offensive against terrorism it is unrealistic that the UN would find financial resources for carrying out a peace-keeping operation in Abkhazia". Shevardnadze did not rule it out that the CIS peace-keeping forces would stay in the conflict zone on the condition of "a change of the format of the operation, revision of the mandate, broadening of the controlled territory, and ensurance of security of the population that has returned". The president of Georgia discussed the situation in Abkhazia with CIS executive secretary Yuri Yarov who stayed in Tbilisi on January 4. He believes that the Russian side can agree with these proposals but a problem with the Abkhaz side may emerge. The president of Georgia spoke for the development of the dialogue with the Abkhaz side. "The process of rapprochement has already begun. It is necessary to achieve reconciliation, restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity and decision of the question of the Abkhaz people's rights in accordance with the highest international standards", Eduard Shevardnadze said.

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