In a radio address on January 12, Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze elaborated on his recent proposal for an international peace-enforcement operation in Abkhazia. Without repudiating Russian-mediated negotiations or direct talks with the Abkhaz leadership, Shevardnadze stressed that "since the negotiating process has failed for almost five years, it is quite natural to use force in order to establish peace." He pointed to the case of Bosnia as a legal precedent and operational model for peace enforcement against "aggressive separatism" and for reversing ethnic cleansing.
Describing the situation in Abkhazia as a "challenge to the international community by a small, armed regime," Shevardnadze pointed to the latter’s "sense of impunity." He called for the initiation of steps at the UN leading, after proper preparation — "which can not be achieved overnight" — toward the internationally-authorized use of force in Abkhazia. (Georgian Radio, January 12)
Shevardnadze’s comments on Abkhaz defiance implicitly target Moscow as the de facto protector of that defiance. Moscow and Abkhazia have already rejected Shevardnadze’s proposal, first aired two weeks ago. (Georgian Radio, December 22) Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Abkhaz leaders have responded by calling for continuation of the Russian "peacekeeping" operation and warning that any "peace enforcement" would inevitably lead to war. The Abkhaz authorities have also bluffed by threatening to appeal to volunteers from Russia’s North Caucasus. (Russian and Georgian agencies, December 25-26, January 8-9, 13) Shevardnadze appears intent on seriously pursuing the Bosnia model in Abkhazia even while recognizing that it necessitates complicated preparations and faces Russian opposition at the UN and in the OSCE. Last week and again yesterday, Tbilisi announced initiatives to obtain official international condemnation of the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from Abkhazia.
Kazakhstan Opens Up More Oil Deposits Onshore.