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Monday, June 12, 2006

Abkhazia rejects Georgia's autonomy offer

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Monday, 12 June 2006: 13.32 CET) – The de facto authorities of Georgia's separatist republic of Abkhazia have rejected an offer of broad autonomy from Tbilisi.

Abkhazia's de facto foreign minister, Sergei Shamba, said local authorities would never abandon the goal of an independent Abkhaz state.

"There is no way Abkhaz authorities will ever give up independence, paid for with human blood. So no one in Georgia or elsewhere should have illusory hopes on that matter, " Shamba said on Sunday.

On 9 June, Georgia went public with its plan to make Georgia a federal state, offering broad autonomy and providing aid to develop Abkhazia's economy.

Irakly Alasania, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's personal adviser for Abkhazia, revealed to Georgian parliament the basic provisions of a plan for an Abkhaz peace settlement.

"The central government is ready to begin consultations with Abkhazian leaders on granting the region a broad internal sovereignty inside Georgia proceeding from the principles of a federation," local media quoted Alasania as saying.

Special conditions would be set up for Abkhazia's economic development, national language and culture, historic heritage, and participation of the region's representatives in the central agencies of power, according to the Georgian plan.

Georgian Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze on Friday had said the region's independence was categorically out of the question.

"Georgia advocates a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but a situation where the Georgian government will ever agree to Abkhazia's separation from the rest of the country is totally out of the question," Burdzhanadze was quoted as saying.

In mid May, Abkhazia presented a plan for resolving its long-running conflict with Georgia.

That plan called on Tbilisi to apologize for its blockade of the Abkhaz people and urged the signing of a peace treaty providing guarantees for security in the region.

The document is based on a principle that Abkhazia should be an independent and sovereign state.

Alasania said during the parliamentary hearings that the Abkhaz side's plan was not acceptable.

Abkhazia gained de facto independence after Georgian troops were driven out in 1993.
(By ISN Security Watch staff, Russian news agencies, Georgian news agencies)
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