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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Today by the personal order of Aslan Abashidze, Head of Ajara Autonomous Republic, Georgia, three bridges had been demolished at the administrative border of Ajara those connecting the region with the rest of Georgia. As a result the region was left practically isolated facing real threat of a humanitarian disaster. This action of Abashidze is an apparent provoking attempt of a military intervention, as the only mean of his own survival.

Abashidze's conduct today serves continuation to the policies his leadership exceedingly abides - stoppage of humanitarian cargoes, dispersing peaceful rallies, unlawful arrest of civilians, distribution of arms, closure down of borders. It's becoming apparent that Abashidze being isolated for his outmoded system and methods lacks basic responsibility thus putting the people of his region at risk.

The government of Georgia declares that the status of Autonomous Republic of Ajara is inviolable. However, the government considers unacceptable the leader itself of the Autonomous Republic who in fact has confiscated the region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia declares that the government of Georgia will explore all peaceful and democratic means to settle the situation. The government of Georgia hereby gives a ten days term to Aslan Abashidze to return within the constitutional boundaries of Georgia, restore the rule of law and get disarmed. Otherwise, President of Georgia will appoint and hold elections to the supreme council of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara ahead-of-schedule, giving the people of the region opportunity to elect new democratic regional government.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia considers that the world community should express its position with regard to the current situation in Ajara and calls upon friendly and partner states to give the events their proper name, univocally evaluating the facts of human rights violation in the region, so that Aslan Abashidze has no hope of support from the world community.

Tbilisi

May 2, 2004



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