Russian Peacekeepers' Mandate Can Only Be Extended Once Question over Abkhazians' Passports Has Been Solved

Russian peacekeepers' mandate to remain in Georgia can only be extended once the problem with Abkhazians' passports has been solved as well as the problem concerning the railway line between Abkhazia and Russia. This was announced at a press conference in Moscow yesterday by Georgian Parliament Speaker Nino Burdjanadze.

In her opinion these are the two most serious issues in Georgia at the moment. She added that Russian peacekeepers are currently acting more like border control and this is not very effective. She pointed out that more than a thousand innocent civilians have died, about five thousand homes have been burnt and tens of thousands of people have had to flee their homes since Russian peacekeepers came to the region. Furthermore, she emphasised, the 14 year period suggested by Russia for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers is unacceptable to Georgia.

Ms Burdjanadze assessed her visit to Moscow as a positive one, adding that the Georgian delegation had received assurance from the Russian parliament that they would renew negotiations on the framework agreement between the two countries as well as seek a solution to the problem of Russian peacekeepers in Georgia. 'We managed to determine the political ways of finding a solution to the crisis in Russia-Georgia relations,' she emphasised.

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