Shevardnadze Arrives in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A Georgian delegation headed by President Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Yerevan Thursday.

The delegation includes State Minister Nikoloz Lekishvili–Foreign Minister Irakly Menagharishvili–Mayor of Tbilisi Badri Shoshitashvili–Economic Minister Vladimir Papaya–Transportation Minister Merab Adeishvili–Energy and Fuel Minister Zoubitashvili–as well as other officials and members of parliament.

At the Zvartnots airport Shevardnadze and Levon Ter-Petrosyan had a brief conversation. Then the delegation began negotiations at Ter-Petrosyan’s residence.

As reported earlier–various Georgian officials and their Armenian counterpart will meet to discuss closer cooperation.

A document signing ceremony was scheduled to be held Saturday–whereby the sides are expected to complete ten agreemen’s.

Russia–an intermediary at negotiations of Tbilisi and Sukhumi–has the key to Georgian-Abkhazian settlement but it does not seem "to do its best for stopping the confrontation," Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told Armenian journalists.

This interview was published in Yerevan Friday to mark the beginning of Shevardnadze’s official visit to Armenia. Shevardnadze directly linked Georgian ratification of the agreement on Russian military bases in Georgia–signed in September 1995–with the Abkhazian problem.

"When signing the agreement–I took the responsibility with some reservation that Russia–placing its bases on this territory–would solve the problem of Georgian territorial integrity–that is the Abkhazian problem–together with us," Shevardnadze said. "If this is not done–there will be problems with ratification."

The Abkhazian authorities revealed Friday that they are ready to increase the number of intermediaries at the Georgian-Abkhazian talks with Western representatives.

A statement to that effect was made Saturday by Abkhazian deputy prime minister Konstantin Ozgan–Itar-Tass correspondents reported from Sochi.

When commenting on results of a Sukhumi trip of Russian Foreign Ministry staffers Gennady Ilychev and Lev Mironov Tuesday–the Abkhazian official said "the Abkhazian attitude to numerous proposals of European and American countries to expand the number of talks participants depends on Russia’s further stance at negotiations."

Ozgan said that the Foreign Ministry representatives came to discuss Georgian-Abkhazian settlement with the Abkhazian authorities but no specific results were achieved. He said the Abkhazian authorities "will not consider the problem of Georgian refugees as long as the economic blockade of Abkhazia is not lifted."

They view the telephone communication switch off on April 15 as a "Georgian and Russian political pressure on Abkhazia." The Georgian-Abkhazian talks with a Russian mediation started in August 1992 in Adler when a cease-fire agreement was reached by the sides.

Some rounds of the talks took place in 1993-1994 in Geneva under the auspices of the UN and with participation of the CSCE. The bilateral talks are now held with the Russian mediation.

"We mean a larger UN participation in the search for settlement ways– assistance to the return of refugees and displaced persons to Abkhazia– and solution of social–economic and humanitarian problems caused by the conflict," declared a report of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

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