Tbilisi has proposed to Moscow to divide Abkhazia into zones of influence, the Russian daily Kommersant reported on June 27.
Citing unnamed sources from the Georgian authorities and Russian Foreign Ministry, the paper reported that the plan involves partitioning Abkhazia, with Gali and Ochamchire districts under Tbilisi control and areas to the north of Ochamchire under de facto Russian control.
“Tbilisi’s plan envisages the immediate return of internally displaced persons to Gali and Ochamchire districts… and the replacement of Russian peacekeepers in these districts with a joint Georgian-Abkhaz police force,” Kommersant reports.
It also said that formally Georgian sovereignty would be restored over the entire territory of Abkhazia, but in fact a large part of Abkhazia to the north to Ochamchire would be under Russian control.
“Hence, all the participants of the deal will achieve their goals and save face,” Kommersant says. “President Saakashvili will be able to announce jubilantly the return of Abkhazia to the bosom of the country; the Abkhaz side, although it would lose control over an insignificant part of the region, will guarantee its actual independence from Tbilisi. And Moscow’s reward in exchange for its help will be Tbilisi’s rejection of its NATO aspiration.”
According to the newspaper, Russia has taken the proposal seriously and discussed it with Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh, who along with other officials met President Medvedev in Moscow on June 26. Kommersant, however, also reported that the Abkhaz side seemed unenthusiastic about the proposal.
Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report released earlier this month that partition was being considered by some senior officials in Tbilisi.
“Some have speculated that the partition solution would only be possible if choreographed with Russia, which might give up its influence over the part of Abkhazia where its investment is lowest in return for security for the 2014 Sochi Olympics,” the report reads.