Georgia leader - change Abkhazia talks, replace peacekeepers
( RIA Novosti ) - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded Thursday a change in the format of talks on Abkhazia and the replacement of peacekeepers in the secessionist republic of the South Caucasus nation.
Since the 1994 ceasefire agreement ended a bloody war between the runaway republic and Tbilisi, talks between Abkhazia and Georgia have been on and off under the supervision of the UN and with Russian assistance. Russian peacekeepers have been stationed in the region as part of joint peacekeeping forces, angering Tbilisi, which has demanded a more extensive international involvement.
Speaking at a UN General Assembly meeting, Saakashvili said a thorough analysis of the peace process was needed to alter the format of talks and that the peacekeepers should be replaced by "neutral forces" that would maintain peace rather than the "unjust status quo."
There have been frequent and mutual accusations of ceasefire violations from both Abkhazia and Georgia, and President Saakashvili has vowed to regain control of the region.
The latest incident occurred September 20, when, according to Russia's Foreign Ministry, a Georgian special forces unit crossed the border into Abkhazia and attacked servicemen at a military base belonging to the anti-terrorist center of the Abkhazian Interior Ministry.
The Abkhazian Defense Ministry earlier said two soldiers were killed, at least four wounded and several servicemen abducted as a result of the Georgian raid, while Georgia claims that a raiding party from Abkhazia attacked Georgian guards protecting a road being built in the Kodori Gorge, which lies in upper Abkhazia on the de facto border between Georgia and the breakaway republic.
Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.