Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze told the country on radio yesterday that Tbilisi hopes to obtain a UN Security Council resolution on the principles of settling the Abkhazia conflict. Georgia is seeking Russian support for such a resolution at the Security Council’s July 12 meeting, Shevardnadze said. He also pointed to recent direct contacts between Tbilisi and the Abkhaz leaders and suggested developing those contacts into bilateral political negotiations.
The Russian "peacekeeping" troops’ mandate in Abkhazia expires July 19. Yesterday Tbilisi reaffirmed the conditions under which it will agree to renewal of the mandate. The central conditions demand that the troops be given police powers and the mission to repatriate Georgian refugees. They would also enlarge the troops sphere of action to include all of Abkhazia, rather than just the separation zone. But also yesterday, Russian Defense Ministry officials confidently stated that Tbilisi has no alternative to but to agree to an extension of the old mandate. Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba also ruled out Abkhaz consent to any changes in the troops’ mandate. (Interfax, July 8)
Shevardnadze has personally pressed at CIS summits and in bilateral talks with Boris Yeltsin for the expansion of the Russian troops’ mission as a precondition to Georgia’s consent to renewing their mandate. So far, however, Tbilisi has repeatedly backed down in the face of Moscow’s rejection of those terms. Shevardnadze’s public position, that Yeltsin’s reelection will change the situation in Georgia’s favor, therefore appears unwarranted, and is also belied by Tbilisi’s latest approaches to the UN and to the Abkhaz leaders.
Tajik Troops Press Advantage in Central Region.