Popular protests throughout Georgia demand drastic changes in deployment of the CIS peacekeeping forces in Georgian-Abkhaz conflict area or even withdrawal of these forces. But such decisions would mean violation of the international agreements Georgia undersigned in last decade.
However, the politicians demand revisions of the past agreements more and more often. Georgian President and the Foreign Ministry authorities spoke of the need for “review” the agreements, which as the Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili argues does not mean their revision, but only assessment of applicability in current context.
The parliamentarians, especially the ‘reformers’ team poses even more radical demands. Member of the faction “Reforms for Democratic Georgia” Koba Davitashvili stated on January 27 that it is important to declare all the agreements and treaties Georgian government had concluded with the Abkhazian side since 1992 null and void.
“The faction will raise the matter of revoking of those agreements concluded under the pressure”, Koba Davitashvili stated. The faction “New Abkhazia – Christian Democrats” supports this initiative.
Signing so called “Chuburkhinji protocol” on November 17, 2001 was a precursor to the recent protests. Special Affairs Minister Malkhaz Kakabadze signed a protocol with the Abkhazian side in Chuburkhinji village, Gali region, according to which, the troops of the Georgian Defense Ministry (approximately 300 serviceman) should leave Kodori gorge. Russian peacekeepers’ representatives and head of the UN mission to Georgia Dieter Boden attended the meeting in Chuburkhinji.
The Chuburkhinji protocol also obliges the Abkhazian side to withdraw heavy vehicles from Tkhvarcheli region and lower part of Kodori gorge.
Georgian MPs are dissatisfied with signing the protocol for they fear that in case of retreat of the Georgian units from Kodori the Georgian government will lose the only area it controls on the Abkhazian territory.
Demands for withdrawal of the Georgian military forces from Kodori gorge are based on 1994 Moscow agreement and thus supported and endorsed by the UN. With conclusion of the Moscow Agreement in 1994, Georgia obliged itself to withdraw military units from the upper part of Kodori.
The Moscow Agreement had become a starting point for demands of the Georgian politicians to revise and cancel the previously concluded agreements.
The issue heated up even further after the report on situation in Abkhazia, made by the UN Secretary General on January 18. The report says that presence of the Georgian troops in upper Kodori escalates the tension in the conflict zone.
A part of Georgian politicians met the report with strong antipathy. However, MP Koba Davitashvili believes that the Georgian President is the one to be blamed for Kodori problems for he signed 1994 Moscow agreement.
The executive government has relatively moderate approach to the agreements issue. The President and the Foreign Minister talk about their “review”, but not cancellation.
Actually, President Shevardnadze started the “revisionist” talk when he proposed to review the agreements concerning Abkhazia and stated that the troops will not be withdrawn from Kodori. Special Affairs Minister Malkhaz Kakabadze spoke to the Georgian TV about “revision or maybe even cancellation” of the treaties on January 24.
But the Foreign Ministry prefers to stick to more neutral formula: “Georgia can not annul the agreements unilaterally. This would mean refusal to pursue the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Review and analysis of these documents would allow us to know which ones of them are still useful and which ones inhibit the peace process,” said Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili on January 27.
Russia is adamantly opposed to Georgia’s withdrawal from the agreements. On January 22 representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Vasil Kolotusha stated, “All the agreements concluded during the process of Georgian-Abkhazian negotiations must be fulfilled”.
By Giorgi Sepashvili, Civil Georgia