EU wants greater role in Abkhazia resolution: Solana

EU Foreign chief mediates Georgia-Abkhazia conflict:

June, 2008

The European Union wants a greater role in efforts to settle Georgia's conflict with the separatist region of Abkhazia, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Friday. On a visit to the separatists' main city of Sukhumi, Solana told journalists the EU "wants to participate more deeply in settling the conflict." But he also said no resolution was possible without Russia. "I do not see any decision without Russia's participation. Russia is a very important player and, I hope, a constructive player in the region," he said in comments translated into Russian. The visit by Solana to the heart of the Abkhaz conflict underlined growing international worries about recent tensions in ex-Soviet Georgia, which lies on Europe's eastern edge in the Caucasus mountains. Georgia's pro-Western president, Mikheil Saakashvili, last month said the country had come close to war over the region, where the separatist leadership has overt backing from neighbouring Russia. Abkhazia's de facto president, Sergei Bagapsh, said he saw no settlement without Russia's involvement. "Without Russian participation it will be impossible to carry on serious political dialogue," Bagapsh said. And he reiterated Abkhazia's conditions for renewed talks with Georgia: that Tbilisi sign a non-aggression pact and remove its forces from the only part of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia, the Kodori Gorge. He also said Abkhazia would oppose any move to replace Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia with an international force, as Tbilisi is demanding. Tensions have soared since Moscow announced in April that it was establishing formal ties with the separatists. Russia has also sent to Abkhazia hundreds of extra peacekeeping troops, accused by Tbilisi of giving de facto backing to the separatists. Later on Friday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was due to meet Saakashvili in Saint Petersburg. Abkhazia and another separatist region, South Ossetia, broke from Georgian control during wars in the early 1990s that left thousands dead and forced tens of thousands from their homes.


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