Ajaria’s Supreme Soviet chairman Aslan Abashidze yesterday charged that Georgia’s governing party, the Union of Citizens of Georgia, is "behaving unconstructively" and "busying itself with an invented problem of Ajaria." Rejecting assertions that Ajaria withholds taxes to the central government’s budget, Abashidze claimed that Ajaria is on the contrary a disproportionate donor to that budget. He raised the possibility of creating "a political alliance as a counterweight to UCG," the party of President Eduard Shevardnadze. Abashidze was addressing a specially convened news conference in Batumi. (Russian agencies, March 23)
Last month, a high-level Ajar delegation visited secessionist Abkhazia. Abashidze has during the past year or so delivered a series of warnings to Tbilisi. This trend has developed parallel to the conflict of interests between Moscow and Tbilisi regarding Georgia’s role as a transit country for Caspian oil and the Central Asia-Europe corridor. Abashidze maintains close relations with the command of the sizable Russian forces stationed in Ajaria.
First Turkmen Oil Shipped Westward.