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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2063 2007-08-16 06:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2063/01 2280629
O 160629Z AUG 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002063 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/30/2017 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4(b 
1. (C) David Bakradze, Georgia's new State Minister for 
Conflict Resolution, told EUR DAS Bryza July 27 that the 
Georgian government was concerned UNOMIG and the Group of 
Friends had lost "strategic focus" over Abkhazia, as 
reflected in a recent UN report criticizing Georgia for minor 
issues, while the Abkhaz and Russians get relatively little 
criticism for obstructing conflict resolution at a broader 
level.  Bakradze agreed with Bryza that Georgia can regain 
the initiative by focusing on the issue of internally 
displaced persons (IDPs) from Abkhazia, thereby drawing a 
clear distinction between Kosovo and Abkhazia as we head into 
UN Security Council discussion of renewing the mandate of the 
UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) in October.  On South 
Ossetia, Bakradze said Georgia would continue its active 
efforts to engage the de facto authorities in the ongoing 
process of defining the region's autonomous status.  End 
In Search of Momentum 
2. (C) The newly appointed Bakradze told Bryza and Charge 
that the Georgian government, from President Saakashvili on 
down, was unhappy with the current dynamic regarding 
Abkhazia.  He said Russian behavior in Abkhazia was becoming 
more aggressive by the day, with the most recent example 
being a Russian Deputy Prime Minister's statement that Russia 
would use Abkhazia in its plan for the 2014 Winter Olympics 
in Sochi.  Bakradze said that all signs from Moscow -- 
including rhetoric in the Russian media -- suggested that 
Russia was approaching a "critical point" in Abkhazia, 
leading either to "military buildup or recognition." 
Bakradze acknowledged that it was unlikely the Russians 
genuinely wanted to recognize Abkhazia -- something that 
would worsen their internal headaches in the north Caucasus 
-- but he feared that Russian President Putin was becoming a 
hostage to his own rhetoric on the issue.  In Bakradze's 
analysis, Putin may have raised the prospect of Abkhazia 
recognition as a tool to discourage Kosovo independence, but 
his comments have hardened Russian public opinion on 
Abkhazia, and at a certain point it may become impossible for 
Putin not to follow through on his threats. 
3. (C) Given this danger, Bakradze said it was very 
disappointing that the UN Secretary General has chosen to 
focus on minor issues, such as the Georgians' establishment 
of a Patriot youth camp in Ganmukhuri, near the 
Abkhaz-controlled Gali region, and the disappearance of Gali 
de facto election official David Sigua.  Bryza said the U.S. 
position is opposition to ethnic cleansing, and Bakradze 
strongly agreed.  He said recent comments by Abkhaz "foreign 
minister" Sergei Shamba that Abkhaz and Georgians could not 
live together amounted to a continuation of ethnic cleansing: 
the de facto authorities had expelled the majority 
population, declared independence for those who remained, and 
were now calling on the international community to recognize 
it.  Bryza agreed, noting that we were unwilling to permit 
Shamba to come to New York in the current circumstances. 
Bakradze expressed concern that the Abkhaz argument, however 
illogical, might make inroads among the Europeans. 
4. (C) Bakradze agreed with Bryza that in the run-up to the 
October Security Council debate, Georgia should keep the 
focus squarely on the IDPs and the importance of not 
legitimizing ethnic cleansing.  He said IDPs should have a 
genuine right of return to all of Abkhazia, stressing that 
the return of some Georgians to the Gali district was 
occurring only because the Abkhaz did not have the resources 
to prevent it, not because of Abkhaz goodwill.  He expressed 
hope that with the help of the USG, the Georgian government 
could overcome the current sense of a loss of strategic 
direction by emphasizing the right of return for the IDPs, 
the human rights problems in Abkhazia, and the need for 
security mechanisms such as international police.  Bakradze's 
deputy Ruslan Abashidze said Georgia would continue to push 
for "go and see" visits by IDPs to their properties in 
Abkhaz-controlled areas outside of Gali, as foreseen in a 
1994 agreement.  On the question of a UNHCR census of IDPs, 
Bakradze said Georgia had no objection to counting in 
principle, but was concerned that a count that started in 
Gali would be used politically by the Abkhaz authorities, and 
would miss the large numbers of IDPs who were now living 
outside of Georgia.  Bakradze said he intended to travel to 
Berlin, Paris, and Washington prior to October, and would 
also work closely with Group of Friends ambassadors in 
Spelling Out South Ossetian Autonomy 
TBILISI 00002063  002 OF 002 
5. (C) Bakradze noted that two key South Ossetia-related 
events on his calendar in his early days as Minister were a 
meeting of the Commission on South Ossetian autonomy in Kurta 
 28, and a Joint Control Commission meeting in Tbilisi 
August 9-10.  He also mentioned a Steering Committee meeting 
on August 2.  He said the Georgians were using all channels 
-- public and private -- to appeal to the de facto 
authorities to take part in the autonomy discussions.  In 
addition to written invitations, Bakradze said he had sent 
people to Tskhinvali to hold personal meetings, but they were 
stopped by de facto security forces.  Bakradze stressed that 
Georgia was not undertaking the autonomy process as a vehicle 
for Dmitry Sanakoyev, but as something for the whole region; 
Sanakoyev, he said, was "already on our side" and the 
important thing now was to appeal to others in South Ossetia. 
American Corners and Quadripartite Meetings 
6. (C) On other subjects, Bakradze's reaction was generally 
positive to the idea of opening one or more American Corners 
in Abkhazia, provided it did not in any way recognize the de 
facto authorities.  He said the government was currently 
considering a similar proposal from the EU.  He stressed that 
it should be made clear that any such initiatives were 
extensions of existing programs in Georgia, not new bilateral 
U.S.-Abkhaz programs.  He said his Ministry was currently 
collecting comments from other ministries on proposed new 
terms of reference for a series of meetings to fill the role 
of the Quadripartite Meetings on the security situation in 
Gali.  He said there would be a meeting on the Sigua 
investigation August 6, and it was important to get this 
investigation and the Quadripartite meetings started quickly. 


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