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18 Nov, 2008 18:27

Abkhazia and S.Ossetia join peace talks for first time

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are to take their place alongside Russia and Georgia at peace talks brokered by the UN, EU and OSCE. The consultations resume in Geneva on Wednesday and will be held behind closed doors.

Ahead of the meeting, the parties had informal talks, but didn’t make any comment to the media.

It is the second round of the talks. The first one ended last month without any breakthrough when the Georgian delegation refused to negotiate with the newly recognised republics.

The talks will focus on security in the region. The issue of how to get refugees who've been displaced by war and conflict in the area back to their homes will also be on the agenda.

Abkhazia has recently been shaken by a series of explosions. Local authorities have accused Georgian special services of being involved. They say there have been numerous attempts by Tbilisi to reclaim the breakaway territory, and now it's using scare tactics in the bordering regions of Abkhazia to spread fear and terror among the locals.

Sergey Shamba, Abkhazian Foreign Minister, says “security is the top priority, but it's hard to fight terrorism when you have such an aggressive neighbour.”

After Georgia's August military operation against South Ossetia failed, Abkhazia asked Moscow for protection, fearing Tbilisi may once again use force.

Russia recognised Abkhazia’s independence and signed a friendship agreement with the republic.

Abkhazia is a small republic by the Black sea that has been isolated from the rest of the world for more than 15 years. It used to be a part of the Soviet Republic of Georgia, but it declared independence in 1992.

Georgia launched a military operation against the breakaway territory, but it failed. Russian peacekeepers and UN observers kept the conflicting sides separated.

However, in the past couple of years there have been several terrorist attacks in Abkhazia.

Two powerful blasts shook a bus stop in the capital Sukhum on June 30 this year, injuring six people. 

Georgia in NATO may provoke a conflict far worse than August, says defence minister

Taking steps to accept Georgia into NATO may provoke a greater conflict than the war in South Ossetia in August, said Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov after talks with his Turkish counterpart Mehmet Vecdi Gonul in Ankara on Tuesday.
“We are concerned over the measures being taken by the Georgian authorities to enhance the military potential and to drag the country into NATO. These moves may provoke a far more serious conflict than the events in August,” he said.

Serdyukov also noted that Moscow, however, respects Turkey’s position that Georgia's   territorial   integrity   and independence have to be respected.

Related link:

Georgian ‘saboteur’ killed in Abkhazia
Hand of friendship reaches Abkhazia and S.Ossetia

Abkhazia wants equal status at Geneva security talks

Don’t help Georgia rearm – Lavrov

Wave of terror looming over the Caucasus?