Another round of Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations, in progress in Moscow under Russian and UN mediation since the beginning of the month, broke down yesterday. Two time outs of several days each failed to advance the talks. Abandoning the usual reserve, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official yesterday noted Georgia’s flexibility and blamed the deadlock on Abkhaz intransigence. According to the official, the Abkhaz are deliberately stalling in the hope of a victory by Russian hard-liners in the upcoming elections to the Duma. No date has been set for a possible resumption of the negotiations. Also yesterday, President Boris Yeltsin instructed Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to look into the issue and consult with the Defense Ministry on ways to break the deadlock. (17)
Tbilisi is offering Abkhazia the status of an autonomous republic within a federalized Georgia. Abkhazia insists on recognition of a full-fledged Abkhaz state in a nominal association with Georgia. Moscow currently favors the former solution, having withdrawn its earlier support for outright Abkhaz secession. The change became clear last year after the Foreign Ministry gained control over policy on this issue from the military. Russia’s precarious position in Chechnya also makes it very difficult to support Abkhaz separatism. But yesterday’s breakdown probably means that the negotiations will not resume until after the elections to Russia’s Duma, with the Abkhaz side probably in stronger position in view of the expected victory by Russia’s hard-line forces.
Moscow Reinforces Caspian Claim.