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Some Say Sochi Olympic Good for Conflict Resolution
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Jul.'07 / 11:16

The selection of Sochi as the host city for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, whilest sparking celebrations in Sochi, has left many in Tbilisi wondering on the implications for Abkhaz conflict resolution.

Sochi is less than 40 kilometers from the breakaway region.

Most observers and politicians have welcomed Sochi's victory, seeing in it positive implications for Georgia. Just hours before the official announcement, President Saakashvili reiterated his "whole-hearted support" for the Russian Olympic bid.

He said in an interview with Reuters on July 4 that the Olympic Games would help to promote stability, peace and understanding between the nations in the Caucasus. 

That sentiment was echoed by David Darchiashvili, executive director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).

"I think it will have only positive results," he told the Georgian Public Broadcaster on July 5.

"The Olympic Games in Sochi will not only be a Russian endeavor; it is an international one and the international community will spare no efforts to create a region less vulnerable to conflicts. Hence, there should be more international interest in the region and Russia will feel a greater responsibility to resolve the conflict." 

Others, however, have been more cautious. Paata Zakareishvili, a political analyst affiliated with the opposition Republican Party, said Russia, as a result of the games, would further tighten its grip on Abkhazia.

"It means that the conflict remains frozen for at least the next seven years," he said.

Darchiashvili, however, rejected this line of thinking. In such an event, he said, the inevitable Georgian counter-measures would lead to an increase in tension and instability.

"And this would be the catalyst for more international, and even Russian, commitment to resolving the conflict."

Secessionist authorities both in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali have also welcomed Sochi's victory.

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