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No crisis on Georgia-Abkhazia border-parliament speaker

TBILISI, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's parliamentary speaker said Monday the situation in the only Tbilisi-controlled area in the country's breakaway region of Abkhazia was difficult but not in crisis, which meant Russian peacekeepers could be withdrawn.

On Sunday, Emzar Kvitsiani, a former presidential envoy to the Kodori Gorge, said Defense Ministry troops were going to enter the gorge on July 27 and disarm former members of the Hunter border guard battalion. It was formally disbanded in 2005, but most members refused to lay down their arms.

Nino Burjanadze condemned Kvitsiani's comments, calling them "a betrayal, a knife stuck in Motherland's back."

But the speaker denied the former's stance amounted to a crisis. "There is no crisis in the Kodori Gorge, but complications that will accompany the withdrawal of peacekeepers," she said.

She also urged the Kodori residents to prevent lawlessness and rebuff Kvitsiani's actions.

Russian peacekeepers, which have been stationed in the zone of a conflict dating back to the early 1990s, should be withdrawn by 2008, though many politicians in the South Caucasus state have called for the pullout to be completed far earlier.

(The Moscow Times 24.vii.06)

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