Georgian foreign minister Irakly Menagarishvili told a Tbilisi briefing yesterday that he has met with U.S. officials in Washington and with UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali in New York in an effort to promote international involvement in settling the Abkhazia conflict. Menagarishvili said he explained during those meetings that the Russian-mediated negotiations on Abkhazia are deadlocked and have "no future in the absence of more active efforts by the UN and by the USA and other world-leading nations." Tbilisi’s position "received full support in Washington and at the UN," Menagarishvili said. He warned that Russian "peacekeeping" forces "can’t stay on in the conflict zone with their present mandate." (Interfax, May 7)
The demarche reflects Tbilisi’s exasperation with Moscow’s policy of perpetuating the Georgian-Abkhaz deadlock in order to maximize its own leverage over both parties. The UN is formally represented at the negotiations in a backseat role. Moscow claims that it needs UN approval for broadening the "peacekeepers’" mandate. Its official repudiation of economic sanctions against Abkhazia has been followed by a farcical implementation of the January agreement to allow Georgian border guards to join Russian border troops on the Abkhaz sector of the Russia-Georgia border. Reportedly, only seven soldiers of Georgia have been allowed there, and even those are ethnic Armenians (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 6) because, in the world of Caucasus ethnic politics, they are deemed more sympathetic to Russia and to the Abkhaz than to Georgia.
Lezgin Problem Simmering.