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Georgia committed to peaceful end to Abkhazia conflict, Security Council told

29 April 2004 Georgia's new Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, today told the United Nations Security Council that the main goal of the country's new leadership was to restore the territorial integrity of the State through peaceful means.

In an open briefing to the Council, the Prime Minister said he hoped the international community, particularly the Council, would respond to the new realities in his country and make energetic new efforts to reach a comprehensive and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Abkhazia.

Mr. Zhvania said while relations between his government and the Russian Federation have improved, the authorities in Abkhazia would not take part in discussions to settle questions of its political status and the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Abkhazia, in northwestern Georgia, erupted into separatist violence in 1992.

Three years had elapsed since the Friends of the Secretary-General for Georgia had agreed on and supported a document that was to have facilitated basic negotiations, Mr. Zhvania said.

The document indicated the division of powers between Tbilisi and Sokhumi, while giving Abkhazia wide-ranging autonomy within Georgia. The Friends are the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Russia, and they are charged with advancing a peace process that has been stalemated for nearly 10 years.

Mr. Zhvania said the Russian Federation, as the special facilitator, had been trying to deliver the document to the Abkhaz side, but without much success. He hoped that with the increased involvement of his Russian colleagues now it would be possible to begin meaningful deliberations.

In February Abkhazia refused to attend a scheduled meeting and two days ago, at a meeting in Moscow, despite the efforts of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the participation of the Russian side, Abkhazia was "unconstructive."

The result was that a letter of intent on the mechanisms of resettling the IDPs could not be adopted.

The Council is considering Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recent report on the situation.

Mr. Annan said he was encouraged by the public commitment of the new Georgian leadership to find a comprehensive settlement by peaceful means and by early practical actions taken within the zone of conflict. He called on the Abkhaz side to use the changing political climate in Tbilisi to start negotiations on the substantive issues of the conflict.



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