Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday took the oath of office as president of Georgia and was blessed by patriarch Ilia II in the cathedral of the country’s ancient capital Mtskheta. Shevardnadze’s inaugural address reaffirmed the commitment to reforms and to interethnic pacification by creating a Georgian Federation, with Abkhazia and South Ossetia alongside Ajaria as constituent units. The newly elected parliament held its inaugural meeting November 25 and elected as its chairman Zurab Zhvania, until now general secretary of the election-winning Union of Georgian Citizens. Zhvania called in his inaugural address for amending the constitution in order to turn Georgia into a federation. (14)
Shevardnadze, until now "head of state" elected by parliament, won the presidency with 72 percent of the vote in the November 5 general elections. His Union of Georgian Citizens won the absolute majority of parliamentary seats in the two-round legislative elections November 5 and 19. US president Bill Clinton offered support and cooperation in a warmly worded message to Shevardnadze. The election outcome presages internal stabilization and balanced relations with Russia and the West after years of turmoil; but peaceful development is vulnerable to renewed exploitation of the Abkhazia conflict by Moscow hardliners.
Kyrgyzstan Steps Back From Concession To Russian Language.