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Russian Dipomat wants Berlin Meeting on Abkhazia Stalled
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 30 Jul.'08 / 11:08

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin hinted that Moscow was against immediately convening a meeting of the UN Secretary General’s Group of Friends on Georgia to discuss the Abkhaz conflict.

A meeting of the group at the level of experts had been proposed for Berlin this week, with the participation of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides.

“We always appreciate having good meetings, but we believe that this one has to be well-prepared and the parties must also be invited to that meeting if they are willing to come,” Churkin told journalists in New York after the UN Security Council discussed the secretary-general’s latest report on the situation in Abkhazia on July 29.

The Abkhaz side suggested that it might be ready to participate in the meeting of the Group of Friends in August, but not this week. Sergey Shamba, the foreign minister of breakaway Abkhazia, also underlined that participation in such a meeting would in no way mean that Sokhumi was resuming direct talks with Tbilisi.

Sokhumi sets two preconditions for resuming direct talks: signing of a non-use of force treaty and the withdrawal of Georgian forces from the upper Kodori Gorge.

The Russian UN ambassador also said that Moscow believed the German three-stage plan on Abkhazia was “essentially a very good effort.”

“But you know every three- or four-step plan must start with the first step and it is our very firm conviction that the first step should be an urgent signing of an agreement on the non-use of force,” Churkin said.

He also said that a Russian-proposed Security Council draft resolution on Abkhazia calling on the sides to sign a treaty on the non-use of force “again encountered the attitude of some of our partners in the Group of Friend where they try to gloss-over difficult moments and difficult aspects of the situation.”

The Russian delegation is instead now trying to have at least a statement of the Security Council Presidency on the matter. Churkin, however, said “even there I am afraid we are in a situation where I can not predict a successful outcome of that.”

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