Sokhumi’s rejection of Tbilisi’s new initiative is due to Russia and does not reflect the real mood of the Abkhaz people, Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said on March 29.
“It is a regrettable reality that the separatist governments voice not what their peoples and they are thinking, but what they are told to say by a neighboring state,” Burjanadze said in an obvious reference to Russia. “I still hope that these words [referring to Tbilisi’s initiatives] will reach the Abkhaz population without any interpretation and the population will themselves think about the Georgian state is offering them.”
Sergey Bagapsh, the Abkhaz leader, rejected Tbilisi’s new proposals, saying they were “propaganda ahead of the NATO summit” in Bucharest. President Saakashvili on March 28 had offered Sokhumi “unlimited autonomy;” a joint free economic zone, representation at central government level and the post of vice-president with the right to veto Abkhaz-related decisions.
Burjanadze also said that she was skeptical regarding Russia’s mediating role in the framework of the new peace initiatives. However, she added: “I am sure that the international community will appropriately assess those proposals, which were voiced yesterday.”
“We have confirmed once again that we support a political settlement of the conflict and we are not only thinking about it but making concrete proposals as well,” she added.