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    ABKHAZIA ASKS THE STATE DUMA TO ESTABLISH RELATIONS

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    MOSCOW, February 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The heads of some parties and public political organisations of the non-recognised Republic of Abkhazia (a republic of Georgia) again addressed Russian State Duma to return to the discussion of the issue about establishing associated relations between Russia and Abkhazia and "to take a positive political and legal decision" on this score.

    An appropriate letter was sent on Monday to State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov, a spokesman for the Abkhazian representative office in Moscow said on Tuesday.

    "The multiethnic people of Abkhazia, who have achieved their right to self-determination and independence through much suffering, regard such a treaty with Russia as a guarantee of their economic and cultural growth and their safety," the address says.

    The letter also points out that within the framework of the negotiation process the leadership of Abkhazia more than once raised the question about legal possibilities of concluding relations between Abkhazia and Georgia as between equal subjects, taking into consideration historical and judicial prerequisites. "However, the Georgian side flatly rejects this form of co-existence between the states, trying in every possible way to preserve a unitary system," the letter continues.

    "At the same time we cannot but be on the alert after the bellicose statements by the latter-day leaders of Georgia who are striving, with the support of the NATO countries, to strengthen to might of the Georgian army with the aim of carrying out their revanchist plans," the authors of the address underscore.

    In their opinion, the new Georgian leadership intend to use the force of arms for solving the Abkhazian and South Ossetian problems (South Ossetia is another self-proclaimed republic in the territory of Georgia). "They /the new Georgian leaders/ are trying in every way to achieve a withdrawal of the Russian military bases from their territory in order to weaken a geopolitical influence of Russia in this area. But it cannot be allowed," the letter says.

    "The presence of the peacekeeping contingent, consisting of Russian servicemen, and of the mission of military observers of the United Nations in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian confrontation helps preserve stability in the region and prevents the renewal of military actions," the letter emphasises.

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