The Abkhaz side is ready to resume talks with Tbilisi in case the latter follows its commitments undertaken under the basic agreements, Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said on May 10.
Remarks were made just before the meeting in Sokhumi with Mathew Bryza, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and John Tefft, the U.S. ambassador in Georgia, the Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported.
“Instead of developing into the positive direction, situation moves towards negative direction,” Bagapsh said. “We have already been and are in favor of peaceful resolution of all disputes.”
Bagapsh spokesman, Kristian Bzhania, told journalists after the meeting between the U.S. delegation and the Abkhaz leader that “very frank and sometimes very sharp exchange of views” took place, Apsnipress reported.
He also said that the U.S. diplomats offered their help in defusing current tensions. “The U.S. diplomats made no concrete proposals. They were interested in the Abkhaz side’s view on how to resolve the conflict,” Bzhania said.
Sokhumi’s position remains unchanged, the Abkhaz leader’s spokesman said. Withdrawal of Georgian troops from upper Kodori Gorge is a major demand of the Abkhaz side, he said. “Resumption of negotiating process will only be possible in that case,” Bzhania added.
The U.S. delegation also held talks with Sergey Shamba, the breakaway region’s foreign minister, on the same day.
Shamba said, according to Apsnipress, that during the meeting the U.S. delegation “did not insist on superiority of any principles.” “In case of that kind of approach, it will be possible to find way out of the crisis situation,” Shamba added.
He also said that Russia’s “tough position and actions” had already brought results as Georgia had toned down rhetoric. “We see that Georgia’s rhetoric became more peaceful,” Shamba said.
He also pointed out that Sokhumi had “justified concerns.” “We know that the Georgian side launched for several times armed conflict and after defeat the Georgian side was always looking for the third side – Russia – to blame for… We are of course concerned about this kind of scenario now. We do not want war, because it will take place on our territory and we have already experienced it,” Shamba said.
“We are trying to find diplomatic ways to resolve problems with the help of all participating parties in the negotiating process, including with the help of our American friends,” he added.
The U.S. delegation was expected to travel to the predominantly ethnic Georgian populated Gali district of Abkhazia on May 11.