Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s ambassador to the UN and former chief negotiator on Abkhazia, paid a surprise visit to Sokhumi on May 12.
He met with Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh and Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba, according to the Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress.
Information about the visit is scarce. Apsnipress reported that “the issues of security” were discussed at the meeting, which was held on initiative of the Georgian side, according to Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress. Alasania, reportedly, left for New York shortly after the visit without making any comments for the press.
“We are ready for direct contacts with the Abkhaz side and the fact that Mr. Alasania visited Sokhumi is a practical step by us to find common language with our Abkhaz compatriots,” Davit Bakradze, former foreign minister and leader of the ruling party, said on May 13.
Alasania’s talks with the Abkhaz leadership came after the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Mathew Bryza, visited Sokhumi on May 10-11.
The last time when Georgian and Abkhaz senior official met in Sokhumi was in October, 2007, when then Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Davit Bakradze held talks with the Foreign Minister of breakaway region Sergey Shamba.
Alasania, a respected negotiator in Sokhumi, was sidelined from talks with the Abkhaz side in June, 2006 after President Saakashvili appointed him as Georgia’s envoy in UN – the move which was criticized by many local commentators and opposition politicians.
Before that appointment Alasania served as Georgian presidential aide for the Abkhaz conflict resolution. In his capacity in charge of the Abkhaz issues, Alasania managed in March, 2006 to agree with the Abkhaz side to resume the Georgian-Abkhaz Coordination Council – a tool for direct talks between the sides. The Council has not been convened since then. Sergey Shamba, the foreign minister of breakaway region, has said for several times in the past about Alasania that he was “a very constructive person” with whom it was possible to hold consultations.