Abkhazia wants Russian peacekeepers' checkpoint reinstated

Abkhazia will push for reinstatement of Permanent Observation Post 102, which Russian peacekeepers manned in the upriver Kodori Gorge, Sergei Shamba, foreign minister of the breakaway republic in western Georgia, told RIA Novosti by telephone Tuesday.

He said the post was "the only real way to control the situation in the gorge. "What the Georgian side has proposed to date in order to exercise control over the situation in the upriver Kodor is not at all effective," he said.

He went on to note that at present, Georgia requires that it be notified in advance about joint patrols by peacekeepers and United Nations military observers in the upriver Kodori Gorge. "That leads to the fact that such patrols yield nothing that can be discovered," complained Shamba.

"The presence of the Georgian military in the area is tantamount to a breakdown of the accords signed in 1994 by Georgia and Abkhazia," he continued, adding that "at this point, the issue of the situation in the Kodori Gorge is central to Georgian-Abkhazian relations." He argued that "the reinstatement of Post 102 could be an important element of control in that area." The peacekeeping forces in mid-last April had to drop the plan to deploy the observation post in the upriver Kodori Gorge on a permanent basis due to vehement opposition of Tbilisi.

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