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Lavrov Says Tbilisi Shuns Talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 25 that his Georgian counterpart, Gela Bezhuashvili, had cancelled a planned meeting with him so as to avoid discussing Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The meeting, he said, was due to be held in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

?My colleagues informed me that he [Bezhuashvili] could not participate in the meeting, as he was busy because of President Saakashvili?s tight schedule in New York,? Lavrov was quoted by RIA Novosti and Itar-Tass news agencies as saying. ?No other options [by the Georgian side] on holding talks were proposed and it is a source of concern for us.?
He said the Georgian side?s refusal to hold talks was alarming, especially in the light of ongoing Georgian provocations both in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Lavrov claimed that the deadly September 20 clash was a provocation carried out by Georgia. Two Abkhaz militiamen were killed, two injured and seven captured by the Georgian side after the clash.

?As far as we understand it and based on an ongoing investigation, [the Abkhaz militiamen] surrendered their weapons when ordered to do so by the Georgian special purpose unit,? Lavrov said. ?However, they were then executed, shot at close range and one even had his throat cut.?

Lavrov said he hoped the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) would ?make unbiased conclusions? about the September 20 incident. A quadripartite Joint Fact-Finding Group (JFFG), involving the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, as well as Russian peacekeepers, was convened to probe into the reported clash. The group is led by UNOMIG.

?We are bewildered,? Lavrov continued, ?by the fact that the Georgian side, which knows very well what happened and how these murders were committed, is warning that their special purpose forces will continue to behave in such a manner in the event of a reoccurrence. This is absolutely unacceptable.?
Speaking about South Ossetia, Lavrov condemned ?the latest promotion? of Dimitri Sanakoev, the head of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration.
?In regards to both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, we firmly believe it is necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the existing agreements,? the Russian minister said.

He also questioned whether Georgia was in fact firmly committed to a purely peaceful settlement of the conflicts. ?The Georgian side is still refusing to sign an agreement on the non-resumption of hostilities,? Lavrov said.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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