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30 Jul, 2008 09:10

Non-violence essential for Georgia and its breakaways regions, says Russia

Georgia should stop provocations against its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, according to Russia's ambassador to the UN. Vitaly Churkin says it's the only way to make progress in the peace process.

He made the statement after a closed door meeting of the UN Security Council where recent tensions in the region were discussed.

“This report reflected many elements of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict to which the Russian Federation has been attracting the attention of the international community,” he said. “There are a series of provocations by the Georgian side which exacerbated tension in the area of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict. We reiterated the need to stop these provocations. As a first step we suggest an agreement concluded between the two parties on non-use of force.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has also called on both sides to preserve a 1994 ceasefire accord.

A series of explosions that rocked Abkhazia in June and July were blamed on Georgia by Abkhaz officials.

Georgia, in turn, has accused Russia of fueling tension. Moscow, though, rejects the accusations and fears military conflict in the region while Abkhazia claims Georgia could invade them.

Germany proposed a peace plan on July 18 that stipulated a non-violence agreement meant to build trust and lead to an official status for Abkhazia and the return of Georgian refugees to the republic. But Abkhazia says Tbilisi should withdraw its troops first.

The republic is a de-facto independent state not recognised by any country. A sovereignty dispute has been going on since the early 90s when the republic declared independence from Georgia and an armed conflict began.

Some believe the tension will continue until a third party steps in. With The UN Security Council putting peace in the region on their agenda, there is hope that somehow an agreement will be found that satisfies both sides.

Villages attacked

Two villages in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia are said to have come under mortar attack.

A policeman was injured in the shelling, which local authorities claim came from the Georgian side.

But Tbilisi says it was just responding to fire from South Ossetia.