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International Attention on Secessionist Conflicts
/ 17 Nov.'06 / 12:58
Civil Georgia

The recent week has seen increased international diplomatic activities related to the secessionist conflicts in Georgia.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza is holding talks with the Georgian leadership on Friday and plans to travel to Sokhumi on November 18.

The issue of Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts was discussed during talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried in Moscow on November 15.

On the same day Karasin held separate talks with UN Special Representative in Georgia Jean Arnault in Moscow and with British Ambassador to Russia Anthony Branton over Georgia-related issues.

Also on November 15 a delegation of the German Foreign Ministry visited Sokhumi and held talks with Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba.

Germany, Russia, the UK, the US and France are all members of the UN Secretary General’s Group of Friends on Georgia – a grouping involved in the Abkhaz peace process.

The Group of Friends plans to meet in January 2007 in Geneva. According to Georgia’s UN envoy Irakli Alasania, proposals about the possible internationalization of the peacekeeping operation in the Abkhaz conflict zone is expected to be discussed during this meeting.

The secessionist conflicts were also high on the agenda of Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili’s visit to Brussels, where he held talks with the EU and NATO officials on November 15.

Meanwhile, Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders, Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, respectively, are both in Moscow.

Speaking on the political talk-show ‘Judge Yourself’ aired by the Russian state-run television First Channel in primetime on November 16, Bagapsh accused Tbilisi of thwarting the negotiating process by “provocative actions” in upper Kodori Gorge.

The Georgian side set up the headquarters of the Tbilisi-loyal Abkhaz government in this Tbilisi-controlled part of breakaway Abkhazia after carrying out a special operation in July against local Georgian rebel groups.

Sokhumi has said that the restoration of the pre-July status quo in upper Kodori Gorge is a condition for the resumption of talks.

Meanwhile, President Saakashvili is seeking a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a summit of CIS leaders in Minsk in late November in an attempt to ease current Russian-Georgian tensions, in which the secessionist conflicts play a major role.

The Kremlin has not yet confirmed that the bilateral meeting will take place, but some analysts in Tbilisi say that a face-to-face meeting of two Presidents became more likely after Saakashvili removed hawkish Irakli Okruashvili from the Defense Minister’s position.

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