Shevardnadze rues war, looks for Abkhaz settlement

'I was against the war with Abkhazia, but I didn't have real power then,' Eduard Shevardnadze has declared 10 years after the end of the Georgia-Abkhazia war. Georgia marked the 10th anniversary of the fall of Sukhumi, and thus its defeat in the war, on September 27, officially Georgia's Day of Memory and Hope.

Despite all Georgia's efforts (concern for the Abkhazian language, encouragement of education and Abkhazian culture) 'aggressive separatism' planted by 'outside forces' was a continuing presence under autonomy, the Georgian president said. What happened was the result of that, he said, insisting that he had never intended to fight Abkhazia. At first, the only troops sent in were dispatched to guard the railroads, which were regularly being robbed and hijacked, he said. Then the assumption of self-rule by certain individuals, supported from outside, he said, provoked the armed clashes with Abkhazians as well as with regular Russian troops based at Gudaut. Nonetheless, Shevardnadze said, both sides must find a way to a peaceful settlement.

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