Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 139

Under a Russian-Georgian agreement initialed but not signed (see the Monitor, June 30 and July 2), Georgian border troops began on July 16 a phased takeover of Georgia’s maritime border from Russian troops. On July 17, the Georgian parliament adopted unanimously a law on the state borders, stipulating that no troops of any state other than Georgia are authorized to protect Georgia’s borders.

The transfer of control from Russian to Georgian troops, however, is running into difficulties not only in Abkhazia but also in Ajaria. That autonomous republic’s Supreme Soviet chairman, Aslan Abashidze, warned at an ad-hoc press conference yesterday that he is not going to permit Georgian troops to enter Ajaria. He announced that in the undesirable [to him] event that Russian border troops leave, he would recall from civilian life 5,000 Ajars who formerly served in the USSR border troops. He would assign this force to protect Ajaria’s Black Sea coast and the Ajar sector of Georgia’s land border with Turkey, Abashidze warned. Abashidze maintains close relations with the Russian military stationed in Ajaria.

In Tbilisi, President Eduard Shevardnadze struck a conciliatory note. He stated on radio yesterday that he foresees a role for Georgia’s regions in protecting certain segments of Georgia’s borders. (Russian agencies, Radio Tbilisi, July 20)

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