Georgia is seeking to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which proclaimed independence following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili instructed the government on Saturday to work out a plan for the implementation of his initiatives aimed at granting Abkhazia broad autonomy and establishing a free economic zone in the separatist province.
"Georgia can discuss any issues. The position of Abkhazia has been announced on many occasions. We are not going ever to discuss this issue [broad autonomy]," Sergei Shamba said.
Saakashvili first offered Abkhazia unlimited autonomy and the post of a vice-premier for the Abkhaz leader in his March 28 speech. Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh rejected the Georgian leader's initiative the following day.
Ex-Soviet breakaway regions have stepped up their drive for independence since Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with Moldova's Transdnestr, have since asked Russia's parliament, the United Nations and other organizations to recognize their independence.