Influential Georgian businessmen, who mediate between the country’s central authorities and the defiant Adjarian Autonomy, described talks with Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze as successful. However, they revealed no details of talks.
“The both sides [President Saakashvili and Adjarian leader] confirmed that they do not want war. This is the most important,” Badri Patarkatsishvili, a media and financial tycoon, who led a group of mediator businessmen, told a press conference after the talks with Abashidze on April 15.
The businessmen retrained readiness to continue mediating between the central authorities and Adjarian leadership. “We will arrive in Batumi next week again,” Patarkatsishvili said.
“The President of Georgia and the Adjarian leader expressed trust towards Georgian businessmen that enables us to actively join the process of defusing the tension between Tbilisi and Batumi. This is the trust expressed towards Georgian business and we are ready to justify this trust,” Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of the TBC Group, said after the talks in Batumi.
However, businessmen refused to make any detailed comments regarding the meeting with Abashidze. “Please do not ask about the details at the moment,” MP Gogi Topadze, a beer magnate told reporters.
Aslan Abashidze made no comments at all after the talks with the businessmen.
Influential business circles took over the mediation between the central authorities and its restive Adjarian region, after Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania failed to convince Aslan Abashidze on April 13 to disarm his paramilitary forces. Zurab Zhvania said after talks that Aslan Abashidze has chosen “a way of confrontation.”
A group of businessmen, which held talks with President Saakashvili on April 14 before the meeting with Abashidze, includes influential media and financial tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, MP Vano Chkhartishvili, co-founder of United Georgian Bank, Temur Chkonia, the president of Coca-Cola Bottlers Georgia, MP Gogi Topadze, a beer magnate, Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of TBC Group and MP Niko Lekishvili, former chairman of the Taxpayers Union.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s central authorities seek for active international efforts for defusing tensions with Adjarian Autonomy. “We should inform our foreign partners that Adjarian regime poses threat not only Georgia, but also entire region,” Davit Aptsiauri, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia told reporters on April 15.
President Saakashvili spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin by phone on April 14. Details of talks were not disclosed; however, it is most likely that recent tension in Adjara was discussed.
Russia, which has a military base stationed in Adjarian capital Batumi, reiterated on April 15 that it will not interfere in standoff between the Georgia’s central government and leadership of the Adjara Autonomous Republic.
“Situation in Adjara is Georgia’s internal affair. We think that the tensions should be defused only with peaceful means,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on April 15.
No other particular measures to activate international efforts were reported so far.
President Saakashvili still prefers to keep silence and made no public statements regarding the recent developments.
Meanwhile, the issue of holding controversial repeat elections in Adjara’s two election districts is questionable. Adjarian authorities, who oppose repeat elections, barred Chairman of the Central Election Commission Zurab Tchiaberashvili from entering Adjara on April 14. Tchiaberashvili intended to deliver ballot papers in the Kobuleti and Khulo districts of Adjara, where elections are scheduled for April 18.
“I can not say yet that the elections will not be held. I will wait till April 18,” Tchiaberashvili told reporters.
The CEC annulled the election results in Khulo and Kobuleti election districts of Adjara under the controversial decree of April 2, quoting massive irregularities. However, as the legal experts say the CEC has no right to annul results of the election districts.