Shevardnadze’s Ultimatum Is a Bluff

Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze won’t sign documents to prolong the mandate of the Russian peacemaking forces until the railway communication recommenced in December’2002 between the cities of Sochi and Sukhumi is suspended. Eduard Shevardnadze declared this intention at a press conference on Monday. PRAVDA.Ru already reported that refugees from Abkhazia organized mass protest actions against recommencement of the railway communication between Russia and Abkhazia, and against mass granting of the Russian citizenship to Abkhazians; the people blocked the bridge over the Inguri river connecting Georgia and Abkhazia. The refugees demand that the mandate of the Russian peacemakers in the area of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict must be stopped.

The First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, the presidential envoy for settlement of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict Valery Loshchinin visited Sukhumi last week. He held negotiations with the Abkhazian leadership and suggested to summon a new meeting of Georgian and Russian representatives to discuss measures of trust; this may be a so-called “Yalta-2” meeting. The Russian Foreign Ministry is sure that Tbilisi is interested in recommencement of this dialogue. However, judging by today’s demarche of Tbilisi, this dialogues is finally turning into a monologue of an offended child bereft of his best toy. Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze ignored Abkhazians, and instead, directed his anger against Russia. In his words, the Russian side “decided to recommence the railway communication between the cities of Sochi and Sukhumi independently, without provisional coordination with the Georgian authorities.” He added, actions of this kind “violate the Russia-Georgia bilateral agreements, decisions taken at the CIS summits and several international conventions.” Eduard Shevardnadze says that the situation will clear up by the end of the month, when a special session of the UN Security Council dedicated to the situation in Abkhazia is to take place. The Russian peacemakers are the cause, the railway is the reason, but not the key one. The Georgian president says that he is very much offended by the mass granting of Russian passports to the citizens of Abkhazia. Eduard Shevardnadze thinks that this “contradicts the ethics of the interstate relations.”

Moscow didn’t touch upon the problems of the interstate ethics and left them under the jurisdiction of Eduard Shevardnadze (he took the post of foreign minister in the Soviet era), but Russia made Georgia understand who and how will settle the problem concerning the status of the Russian peacemakers in the area of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict. The decision of Eduard Shevardnadze not to prolong the mandate of the Russian peacemakers “won’t have any effect on their stay in Abkhazia.” This was declared by a high-ranking representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense on Monday in response to the statement of Eduard Shevardnadze concerning his intention not to prolong the mandate of the Russian peacemakers. “The CIS peacemaking forces are in the area of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict on the basis of a decision passed by the CIS presidents who issued the mandate for these forces. That is why they will keep on maintaining peace between both sides of the conflict in accordance with this mandate until the Council of CIS presidents takes another decision,” the representative the Russian Ministry of Defense adds.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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