Tbilisi’s refusal to carry out monitoring of upper Kodori Gorge will be perceived by Sokhumi as preparation for war, Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh said on August 1.
“It is essential to resume the monitoring of Kodori Gorge. If it does not happen, we will [take it as a sign] that Georgia is preparing for war. If Georgia is not preparing for war, they should let UN observers and peacekeepers carry out the monitoring which is envisaged by the 1994 Moscow agreement,” Bagapsh said in televised comments broadcasted by the Abkhaz TV station.
“A regular patrol of peacekeeping forces and international observers shall be organized concurrently in the Kodori valley,” the Moscow agreement signed by the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in 1994 reads.
Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili said on July 31 that Tbilisi will agree to the monitoring of upper Kodori Gorge only after an international inspection of the Gudauta military base is carried out in breakaway Abkhazia. Tbilisi is demanding that the Gudauta base be monitored by an independent international party to verify its closure by Russia, as envisaged by a 1999 OSCE Istanbul treaty.
Abkhaz leader Bagapsh also stated that “Kodori Gorge is part of Abkhazia and we will return this territory sooner or later.”
Meanwhile Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov called for “a total and full inspection of those so called police forces that are currently stationed in upper Kodori Gorge.”
He said that presence of the Defense Ministry forces in Kodori Gorge is a blatant violation of the 1994 Moscow agreement.