Magazine article Europe-East

Georgian Ambassador Calls for Action on Abkhazia

Magazine article Europe-East

Georgian Ambassador Calls for Action on Abkhazia

Article excerpt

Georgia's Ambassador to the EU Konstantin Zaldastanishvili has urged the European Union to help resolve the conflict with the breakaway republic of Abkhazia. He said that a "first step" could be to appoint a Special Envoy to the Southern Caucasus. While Russia officially supports Georgia's territorial integrity, Mr Zaldastanishvili suggested that Abkhazia was receiving direct and indirect support from Russia, saying he understood that 80% of Abkhazians had Russian citizenship by means of stamps on old Soviet passports. The Ambassador argued that the EU could help Georgia by raising the "very painful" Abkhazian question in talks with Georgia's northern neighbour.

Mr Zaldastanishvili stressed that the Georgian Government was committed to a peaceful settlement of the conflict, proposing the "most comprehensive autonomy that can be recognised internationally". However, the de facto Abkhazian leadership would not even receive a United Nations-approved document on the division of powers between Tbilisi and Sukhumi, the Ambassador explained. The international community should try to convince the Abkhazians to come to the negotiating table. "We need to start somewhere", according to the Ambassador, referring to the need to address the return of 300,000 refugees in Georgia who want to return to Abkhazia. The Ambassador said he was grateful to the EU for its financial assistance in infrastructure and humanitarian aid.

Asked more generally about Georgia's view of relations with the EU, Ambassador Zaldastanishvili told EIS that co-operation and integration with the EU was one of Georgia's major foreign policy priorities. Georgia wanted very much to once more be part of the "European family". To this end, the Ambassador stressed that Georgia was working to harmonise all legislation with that of the EU. …

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