Abkhazia to Preserve Independent Status

TBILISI (RIA Novosti)–The political status of Abkhazia was determined once and for all–Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh said at a press conference in Sukhumi on Wednesday.

According to him–at the referendum of 1999–Abkhaz people voted for the country’s independence.

Sergei Bagapsh denied the information that the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (self-proclaimed republics in Georgia) were ready to negotiate with the Georgian side on the formation of a federative union state–etc.," the Novosti-Georgia agency reports.

"Talks on Abkhazia’s political status with Georgia are out of the question," Bagapsh said.

He does not rule out his meeting with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili–but believes that it should be seriously prepared. "This meeting cannot be held either in Tbilisi–or in Batumi. I will not go there," Bagapsh stressed adding that the agenda of this meeting should be thoroughly drafted–as well.

Speaking about the statemen’s by Georgian leaders claiming that "Abkhaz people would like the republic to join Georgia," Bagapsh said. "Georgian politicians are making conclusions having no idea of real moods of Abkhaz people." In his opinion–this can put an end to Georgian-Abkhaz talks–which have not started yet.

The Abkhaz leadership is ready to discuss with the Georgian side nothing but mutually beneficial economic projects on the basis of Sochi agreemen’s signed in March 2002–he stressed. The agreemen’s imply the restoration of through railway traffic via Abkhazia to Georgia and Armenia–the restoration and development of the Inguri hydroelectric power plant and the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia’s Gali district.

"Other issues are out of the question," Bagapsh said adding that the above-mentioned problems were usually discussed with representatives of the UN mission.

According to Bagapsh–the Abkhaz delegation will attend the session in Geneva on Georgian-Abkhaz settlement on April 7-8.

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