Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 10

Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze last week sent Russian president Boris Yeltsin a personal letter and a set of letters and documents to the presidents of CIS countries containing proposals for settling the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. Georgia seeks to have the proposals adopted by the upcoming January 19 CIS summit. The letters and documents included an appeal to Yeltsin and other CIS member country presidents to exert pressure on the separatist regime in Abkhazia. Shevardnadze reaffirmed Georgia’s offer to grant Abkhazia the status of a republic with its own constitution, legislature, executive bodies of power, state symbols, and other attributes of statehood. The Georgian president called for economic sanctions to induce Abkhazia to accept these terms and again proposed that Russian "peacekeeping" troops be required to provide security for Georgian refugees’ repatriation to Abkhazia.

Reacting yesterday to the proposals, a senior official of the Russian Foreign Ministry said any decision on the matter was for the CIS, not Russia, to make. At the January 12 meeting of CIS foreign ministry representatives, Russia, supported by Belarus, sought to postpone a recommendation on Georgia’s proposals to the impending CIS summit. In related news, a group of Abkhaz officials and deputies arrived in Moscow yesterday to appeal for the support of the Duma’s hard-line majority. (10) (See CIS section above). By appearing to rule out coercion, Russia’s Foreign Ministry looks set to disappoint Shevardnadze’s hopes for assistance in securing a compromise with Abkhazia. Russia’s Defense Ministry, which underwrote Abkhaz secession in the first place, is even less likely to enforce a political compromise acceptable to Georgia. The Georgians considers it important to secure Russian cooperation in pressuring Abkhazia before the new Duma convenes. Yet time is working against Georgia, which may have to choose between acknowledging defeat or going outside the CIS framework to internationalize the Abkhaz peacekeeping operation and negotiating forum.