Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 184

The Georgian parliament yesterday adopted a decision in which it officially declared Russia’s political mediation between Tbilisi and Abkhazia "unsatisfactory," and held Russian "peacekeeping" forces responsible for shielding the planned Abkhaz elections and thus legitimizing the ethnic cleansing of Georgians. The decision stipulates that all Georgian-Russian relations, specifically including Tbilisi’s execution of the unratified friendship treaty and the unratified agreement on Russian military basing rights in Georgia, will be contingent upon Russian support for the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity. The parliament will conduct annual reviews of these issues to determine the appropriateness of Russia’s military presence in Georgia. President Eduard Shevardnadze is instructed to form a special state delegation for discussing these issues with the Russian side and reporting back to parliament by December 10. The commission is also instructed to request the U.S., Britain, and Germany to join efforts at reaching a political settlement of the Abkhazia problem.

The decision was drafted and submitted by Shevardnadze’s ruling Union of Georgia’s Citizens. During the debate, speakers described Russia as "an organizer of the conflict in Abkhazia" and said that Moscow was co-responsible for ethnic cleansing by dint of its military assistance to the Abkhaz in the 1992-93 war and the practical effects of its peacekeeping operation since 1994. (Interfax, October 2) The parliament’s decision was preceded by a series of warnings delivered by Shevardnadze and other Georgian officials, exasperated by Moscow’s policy of freezing the situation on the ground in Abkhazia’s favor. Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s decisions to call elections under the de facto protection of Russian troops was the final straw. Yeltsin’s incapacitation also helped precipitate Tbilisi’s decision. Georgian leaders expect a period of paralysis in Russia’s policy and are unwilling to go along with a further, and seemingly open-ended, postponement of long overdue decisions on Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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