GEORGIA SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON ABKHAZIA.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 42
The Georgian Foreign Ministry has rejected charges leveled by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the command of the "peacekeeping" forces that the Tbilisi authorities have been involved in recent guerrilla raids in Abkhazia; three Russian soldiers have been killed and several wounded in recent days. Terming the charges "rhetorical" and intended to justify Abkhaz intransigence in the deadlocked negotiations, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said that the incidents, in fact, contradicted Georgia’s own interests. In a more nuanced comment, the Georgian first deputy minister of state security, Avtandil Ioseliani, stated that there was no evidence of involvement by Tbilisi authorities, and that Tbilisi could mount more effective raids if it did decide to get involved. Ioseliani ascribed the raids in Abkhazia — as his ministry has since the raids began in earnest last November — to ordinary ethnic Georgians exasperated by Abkhaz persecution. He also exonerated the self-styled White Legion, which has taken responsibility for some of the attacks. (Interfax, Sakinform, February 26-27)
Ioseliani appears consistently to represent one track — potential intimidation — of a Georgian policy whose main track remains diplomacy and political dialogue. Abkhazia has thus far showed itself unresponsive to either type of signal.
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