08TBILISI1121, GEORGIAN TALKS WITH ABKHAZ IN SWEDEN:THE FAST

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1121 2008-06-27 14:00 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

O 271400Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9687
INFO AMEMBASSY BERLIN IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001121 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN TALKS WITH ABKHAZ IN SWEDEN:THE FAST 
TRACK TO NOWHERE 
 
Classified By: Ambassadot John F. Tefft for reason 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary and Comment.  Temuri Yakobishvili,  Georgian 
State Minister for Reintegration, told the  Ambassador that 
last week,s talks in Sweden between de facto Abkhaz 
representatives yielded no progress  in resolving the 
conflict.  The talks confirmed  Georgian thinking that the 
highest priority of decision makers in Sokhumi remains 
preservation of the status quo.  In his view, the Abkhaz are 
unmotivated by promises from the West and see the Russians as 
the only actors willing and able to follow through on 
promises of economic assistance and security.   Yakobashvili 
outlined the positions of a range of Saakashvili,s inner 
circle and acknowledged that Georgia will stand alone in any 
military confrontation in Abkhazia.  Yakobashvili sees 
Georgia,s options for slowing Russian annexation of Abkhazia 
as dwindling and he also sees the Abkhaz question as 
inextricably linked to discord in the North Caucasus.  He 
speculated that any fighting -- even by guerillas or 
partisans -- could spread quickly to the North Caucasus. The 
Ambassador told Yakobashvili that strategies for military 
action were self-destructive and urged him to find 
longer-term plans to build on support garnered by President 
Saakashvili during his meetings in Europe this month.  End 
summary and comment. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Abkhaz Protecting the Status Quo 
-------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  In a frank meeting with Ambassador Tefft on June 
25, Georgia,s State Minister for Reintegration Temuri 
Yakobashvili detailed the talks in Sweden between Georgian 
and de facto Abkhaz representatives the week of June 16th. 
The talks provided his first opportunity to meet face-to-face 
with the Abkhaz and he described the talks as frank and open. 
 He noted that opportunities for informal meetings (mostly 
smoke breaks and meals) created the best conditions for 
discussions.  The minister told the Ambassador that Abkhaz de 
facto foreign minister Shamba,s message was clear, "There is 
nothing we want from you.  We have our independence, even if 
it is quasi-independence.  We know well we will never be 
fully independent.  We can,t rely on the Americans or the 
Europeans.  The Russians are our only option."  However, 
during a dinner, the Abkhaz said that they understood that 
within ten years they would be a part of Georgia.  The Abkhaz 
were emboldened by their view that the Russians successfully 
defeated Ukraine's and Georgia,s MAP aspirations and 
therefore have proved their strength.  During the formal 
sessions, the Abkhaz told the Georgians that if there is a 
Georgian attack in Abkhazia, they will mobilize their 
political and military power to take Samegrelo and Kodori. 
 
3.  (C)  According to Yakobashvili, the Georgian side raised 
a range of proposals including the Free Economic Zone 
proposal for Abkhazia.  The Abkhaz delegation dismissed all 
proposals as unacceptable because they originated from 
Georgia's government.  The Georgians suggested asking 
academic Svante Cornell,s team to draft a concept paper for 
a Free Economic Zone so that it would come from a neutral 
third party.  Yakobashvili believed this concept might have 
had traction, but then Shamba backed away.  Yakobashvili,s 
opinion was that Shamba was ultimately unable to support any 
change in the status quo because he answers to hardline 
constituencies in Sokhumi.  They fear movement of people. 
They do not want de-isolation if it means allowing their 
people to be exposed to life in Georgia, rejecting a Georgian 
offer to permit Abkhaz to drive into Abkhazia.  Given the 
opportunity, the Abkhaz leaders would build a wall around 
Abkhazia.  Yakobashvili,s view was that this desire for 
continued isolation was very Soviet.  In a separate meeting, 
Georgian NSC Secretary Kakha Lomaia echoed Yakobashvili's 
assessment of the talks in Sweden. 
 
4.  (C)  Despite this, the Abkhaz see the Sochi Olympics as 
their opportunity for prosperity and security.  As of July 1, 
the Minister told the Ambassador, a ferry connection between 
Sochi and Akbhazia will begin operation.  He told us his 
office has confirmed the availability of tickets for the 
general public for this ferry. 
 
5.  (C)  Yakobashvili acknowledged the difficulty for the 
Abkhaz side in participating in the meetings.  Each of the 
Abkhaz representatives wanted to be seen as the "hard-liner." 
He speculated that Stanislav Lakoba, chairman of the de 
facto Akbhaz NSC, did not attend because he and Shamba are 
now rivals and he expects Lakoba will run against Shamba in 
the next "presidential" election cycle.  Beyond this 
political rivalry, Yakobashvili said that the Abkhaz side is 
obsessed with talking about the Georgian Abkhaz war of 1992. 
They believe they can repeat their success against Georgia, 
with Moscow,s support. 
 
------------------- 
Follow up in Moscow 
------------------- 
 
6.  (C)  Aft
er the meetings in Stockholm, Yakobashvili 
traveled to Moscow to continue discussions on conflict 
resolution.  During a dinner, he spoke to former Russian FM 
Igor Ivanov and told us he was surprised to learn -- from 
Ivanov himself -- that Ivanov had been a key opinion leader 
within Putin,s government in building anti-Georgian and 
anti-Saakashvili sentiment.  Georgians had long believed him 
to have been a supportive voice. In fact, he encouraged 
Putin's negative tendencies toward Georgia when he headed the 
security council.  Yakobashvili said that it was clear to him 
that the Russians believe they must support the Abkhaz, 
because, if the Russian military does not, volunteers will 
rally to the Abkhaz banner from around the North Caucasus. 
And a surge of volunteers would lead to increased separatism 
in the North Caucasus.  He said Ivanov had convinced Putin 
that they could not allow such a resurgence in these largely 
Muslim-populated areas. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
What,s the Plan? And Who Is Behind It? 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  As the Georgians consider their options for next 
steps, Yakobashvili told us that there are three camps 
within Saakashvili,s circle of advisors.  The "peaceniks" 
(Yakobashvili, NSC Chairman Kakha Lomaia, and Deputy Chairman 
of the Parliament's Defense and Security Committee Nik 
Rurua), those who support military action (not spelled out) 
and those who believe that there is a new opportunity 
presented with a new President in the Kremlin (also not 
named).  Yakobashvili told us that those who support military 
action have been frequently quoting U.S. President Franklin 
Roosevelt about the costs of inaction.  The minister told us 
that there are many ways beyond direct confrontation for 
Georgia to engage militarily -- including guerilla tactics 
and the use of partisans.  When the Ambassador asked 
Yakobashvili to clarify Georgia,s strategy for next steps 
specifically with Russian peacekeepers, the Minister told him 
that Saakashvili has made no decision but was prepared to 
allow the current intense diplomatic cycle to run through 
this summer,s G-8 Summit.  If there is no progress and 
Saakashvili then decides to ask the Russians to leave, 
western leaders will have to face the choice of supporting 
Georgia or the leaders will have to face the idea that 
"losing" Georgia and giving up a beacon of democracy and a 
success story of transformational diplomacy.  To complete his 
negative assessment Yakobashvili said the Georgians have 
given up on the Friends of the SYG formula.  He believes the 
Friends are completely incapable of making progress on 
conflict resolution. 
 
TEFFT

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